Zimbabwe’s poor economic performance is impacting heavily on young women who suffer a disproportionately high poverty burden due to limited employment opportunities, Director of the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Zimbabwe (YETT), Lucy Mazingi has said.
Speaking at the launch of a book titled “Towards Democratic Developmental States In Southern Africa” by the Open Society Initiatives for Southern Africa (OSISA), Mazingi said income poverty was a serious problem for rural youths with those in urban areas being forced into informal employment.
“Income poverty remains high, especially in rural areas. Urban poverty continues to grow as urbanisation accelerates, which in turn exerts more pressure on already over-extended social services,” said Mazingi.
She added that informal employment had increased from 84.2 percent in 2011 to 94.5 in 2014 with those operating in the formal sector facing increasing uncertainty relating to payment of wages on time.
“Those remaining in the formal sector, both private and public, face increasing uncertainty with regard to payment of wages on time and in full,
“The decline in formal sector employment is exacerbating the incidence of poverty which in most instances wears the face of a young woman,” added Mazingi.
According to the 2012 census report, 36% (47% male and 53% female) of the Zimbabwean population is between 15 and 34 years of age with a further 41% below 15 years of age.
Mazingi added that young women and men continue to suffer because of the battered economy, high inequalities both in monetary income and access to social services.
“The urban poor and in particular the poor urban young women and men face an uncertain economic future with little prospect of social mobility and failure to create productive employment,” emphasized Mazingi.
She called on the state to ensure that youths are trained and get appropriate education to enhance their chances of securing employment opportunities and other economic empowerment avenues.
Speaking at the event, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Peter Mutasa said the economy is undergoing wrenching structural regression characterized by persistent de-industrialisation and informalization.
“Recently, between 2011 and 2014, 4,610 companies closed, affecting 55,443 workers,
“Share of informal employment in total employment increased from 80 per cent in 2004 to 84.2 per cent in 2011 and 94.5 per cent in 2014,” he said.