Tuesday, 13 May 2014

MDGs and Post 2015 Development Agenda: Gender equality still a priority

As the sun rises, so does the lapsing of time. So is the time-frame of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are supposed to be achieved by 2015.

 In Zimbabwe, the dare which is the highest decision making body is still a preserve for the males. At national level, the equivalent of such is the cabinet and parliament. With such institutions still dominated by men the decisions made in most cases are biased towards males.

MDG number 3 aims to promote gender equity and to empower women by 2015. In Zimbabwe however, women are often being excluded in many decision making processes. Despite the fact that a number of many women organisations have been formed, women are still under represented in many aspects of leadership.

Women are largely involved productive work such as farming and gardening, in order to meet the fundamental needs of their families, but their efforts are not recognised as major contributions to the national development.

 Female Students Network (FSN) believes that women should be supported in all facets of life, including in politics as they can contribute more to the development of the country.  FSN feels that the first step in assessing the equal participation of women and men in political life is to focus on the issue of increasing the number of women in decision-making positions.

 The largely male dominated cabinet with only three women out of 26 means that women’s voices can hardly be heard.  There is also need to influence the change of parents’ mind-sets regarding education for both male and female children.

Parents need to accept that children are equal and they should be given equal opportunities in life because with no proper education, the girl child will be less likely to have a say socially and politically and to be able to support themselves.

Another MDG which is a cause of concern is goal number 5, which stipulates the improvement of maternal health as cases of maternal mortality remain high. Female students are also affected by this issue and the situation is worse for colleges located in rural areas.

According to a research done by the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, the country’s maternal mortality rate is 960 deaths per 100 000 live births. This is a clear indication of the country’s failure to meet MDG goal number 5.

 In Zimbabwe, most maternal deaths are caused by poverty, lack of education and shortage of primary health care centres especially in marginalized areas such as Binga. Cases of women giving birth on their way to the clinic have been recorded the worst affected.

The shortage of critical staff and poor remuneration are other challenges affecting the country’s quest to meet the MDGs.  Scrapping off user fees for pregnant women would be a good development in the country’s mission to meet MDGs because most women, especially in the rural areas end up giving birth at their homes, which is unsafe and prejudicial to their health.

Therefore, the aspect of gender equality and maternal health still remain a priority in the country and should be included in Post 2015 Development Agenda.

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