The feminisation of poverty: A study of Ndau women of Muchadziya village in Chimanimani Zimbabwe

Abstract

Poverty statistics in many countries of the developing world, with Zimbabwe being no exception, continue to show a gender-skewed trend, with women more than men increasingly being more affected. This is worrying, considering the fact that it is women who are the majority, and they carry the brunt of the burden for most household duties. Zimbabwe adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and yet women continue to be hit hard by poverty. This was a qualitative study involving interviews and focus group discussions with 58 purposively sampled participants from Muchadziya village to determine the extent to which women in Muchadziya village are contributing towards sustainable development in Zimbabwe. The aim of this article, was to explore the ways in which women in Muchadziya village are contributing towards the alleviation of poverty. In the process, they will be contributing towards the attainment of some of the SDGs, such as the ones focusing on ending poverty in all its forms everywhere (SDG 1) and ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture (SDG 2). Using Africana womanism theoretical framework, the article maintained that African women should be perceived as agents, not subjects, of development and transformation in their communities. Findings indicated that women in Muchadziya village are selling various products and have sought markets in Beitbridge, Gweru and Zvishavane to sell them; others have set up shops and flea markets, and others make use of the land even though they do not own it to produce farm products to fight against poverty. The study concluded that women, despite being in difficult circumstances, are capable of contributing towards the achievement of the SDGs, particularly SDG 5 focusing on women’s empowerment and attaining gender equality. It is therefore recommended that women be given the necessary support to achieve more. Contribution: In a context where women are the most affected by poverty, Ndau women have proven that they can be agents of change by contributing towards the achievement of SDGs such as ending poverty in all its forms, zero hunger, education, gender equality and women’s empowerment and water and sanitation. Not much scholarly attention has been paid to the agency of women in Chimanimani in enhancing Zimbabwe’s sustainable development. This gap in literature might be influenced by the fact that African women, particularly women in rural areas, are perceived as beneficiaries or recipients of aid or development initiatives. As such, most programmes mainstreamed by aid or donor agencies in Africa have a specific focus on distributing aid to women and girl-children. Unfortunately, such programmes rarely seek to capacitate or empower their beneficiaries; hence, their interventions eventually disempower the intended beneficiaries

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