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In Mat North, Sexual Health Gets Little Attention, With Devastating Results

Lack of access to clinics and sexual health services results in dire consequences for women in Matabeleland. Image by Unsplash

BY CALVIN MANIKA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAY 6, 2022

Lack of access to clinics which support sexual health is a headache for women in Matabeleland North.

LUPANE (The Citizen Bulletin) — Sifiso Ncube suffers post-traumatic stress for months after losing a baby a year ago.

She failed to reach the nearest clinic in time after suffering some complications.

The nearest clinic from Ncube’s homestead in Katshana village, at the border of Lupane and Gokwe, is 20 kilometres away.

When she finally reached the clinic, nurses delivered heart-breaking news to her that she had suffered a miscarriage.

“It was a nightmare experience of my life. If I could get help urgently that miscarriage was to be avoided.”
Sifiso Ncube, a traumatized woman

“It’s not easy to lose a baby when you are already planning and also the changes which come with pregnancy.”

United Nation Population Fund (UNPF) Technical Specialist for Maternal Health, Dr Edwin Mpeta lamented the challenges in accessing maternal health care services.

“This is a challenge when more maternal surgeries need to be performed at the same time. Also, the other thing which affects waiting mothers is delays. Delays to come from home to the hospital because of long distances and delays as part of the system issues when one has arrived at the health care centre.”
Dr Edwin Mpeta, UNPF Technical Specialist for Maternal Health

As the country heads to 2023 elections, women in rural Matabeleland feel there is a need for an increase in women political participation to raise a voice on SRHR.

Zimbabwe has a bicameral parliament with the use of voluntary party quotas and legislated quotas for the lower house and upper house and at the sub-national level.

Eighty-one of 265 seats in the National Assembly are held by women.

According to the Constitution, 60 of the 2010 parliamentary seats are reserved for women under proportional representation.

Member of Parliament for Nkayi South Constituency Stars Mathe says male politicians have an unfair advantage against their female counterparts, in particular with regards to the financial muscle.

“Ninety (90%) of the resources are in the hands of men. So we find ourselves in a corner. The politics of our day need money and resources,” Mathe says.

She adds: “We are approaching 2023 with a very big challenge because we don’t have resources and we don’t know how we are going to handle elections from primary to the general elections.”

Sithulisiwe Ngwenya says issues to do with SRHR can better be given importance only with more women in local council, parliament and senate.

“It is very important for women to participate and win house of assembly seats. This will give women more voice and make constructive noise in parliament to make laws which support women especially those in marginalised rural areas in areas like Matabeleland North,” Ngwenya says.

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Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) Hwange Chapter Catherine Madondo says there is a need for political parties to have deliberate policies supporting women political participation.

“Women also lack support from political parties and the community at large. I think in 2023, the government must create space for women in development work who will represent women issues, most importantly sexual reproductive and health rights,” Madondo notes.

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