Women and young girls in Zimbabwe are demanding for improved quality of maternal and reproductive health in the country’s hospitals and clinics. This was revealed in an advocacy campaign carried out by White Ribbon Alliance called What Women Want.
The White Ribbon Alliance Zimbabwe with the support of Ministry of Health and Child Care and collaborating partners, conducted the What Women Want Campaign from September 2021 to February 2022, adding to the demands of Zimbabwe’s women and girls to the nearly 1.2 million responses already collected through this global initiative.
Women and girls from 12 Districts, namely Bulawayo, Bindura, Chitungwiza, Chegutu, Goromonzi, Harare, Kariba, Marondera, Masvingo, Norton, Ruwa, Shurugwi and Zvimba participated and from this campaign 25 888 maternal and reproductive health demands came out.
These are demands for better quality health services as expressed by the various women, the bulk of which were from marginalised areas. It is expected that the results of the campaign will influence changes in health policies, programs and practices at the national and community levels to reflect the self-articulated needs of the women in Zimbabwe.
Now that women and girls have spoken it is time to Listen and Act!!!
Some of the demands that came out of the campaign include the free provision of sanitary towels and pads, availability and easy accessibility of modern day family planning methods, accessibility of cervical cancer screenings and treatment. The women and girls are also demanding for courteous and friendly health staff who will offer them dignified non-discriminatory care. In addition, they want adequate supply of drugs in hospitals as most government hospitals in the country have an acute shortage of drugs.
Women, particularly those in rural areas, highlighted that they walk long distances in order to access health services. They also noted that the provision of health services was badly affected during the COVID-19 era due to the introduction of lockdown measures which impacted negatively on the accessibility of maternity services such as antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care service.
The What Women Want Campaign also managed to get voices of women in correctional and rehabilitation facilities in the country. A total of 330 responses were collected through White Ribbon Alliance Zimbabwe’s partnership with Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services. From the responses collected 249 were from female inmates and 81 came from female officers. The prisons that participated in the campaign are Mlondolozi, Shurugwi, Chikurubi and Marondera Female open Prison.-STAFF WRITER