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Explained: The Human Rights And Economic Crisis In Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe’s History

From 12 December 1979 to 17 April 1980 Zimbabwe Rhodesia was a British colony of Southern Rhodesia became the independent Republic of Zimbabwe on 18th April. Before independence, Zimbabwe had been recognized by several names- Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe Rhodesia.

People gather at an anti-President Mugabe rally held by the War Veterans as part of mass action protests that have brought the city to a standstill, in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 18 November 2017. The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has taken over the control of the running of the country with Robert Mugabe, being under house arrest for days, but making his first public appearance at a University graduation ceremony on 17 November 2017. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

After Independence

Robert Mugabe was elected as the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. There were several improvements, like in 1992, a study by the World Bank specified that more than 500 health centers had been built since 1980. The percentage of children vaccinated increased to 67% in 1988.

Life expectancy increased from 55 to 59 years. In a year, enrolment increased by 232% after primary education was declared free. In 2 years, enrolment increased by 33% in secondary school. He also introduced various social policies for benefit of people due to which the debt ratio increased.

Mugabe resigned from his post in 1987, an amendment was made in the constitution and the office of prime minister was abolished. In 1990, Mugabe was appointed as president.

Zimbabwe began experiencing political and economic destruction in 1999. So, opposition to President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF government grew after the mid-1990s. The main reason was the worsening of economic and human rights that brought about capture of land owned by white farmers and economic penalty imposed by western countries in response. Also, a new opposition party, Movement Of Democratic Change was established in September 1999.

Presidential elections were held in March 2002.  ZANU-PF won with the support of the army. Mugabe won the elections despite international criticism and measures. Also, the US and EU imposed limited penalties against Mugabe.

Since the 2002 elections, Zimbabwe suffered economic difficulty and political confusion.

The Crisis

The government began operation Murambatsvina in May 2005 intending to rid urban areas of illegal activities, crimes, etc. The UN estimates around 70,000 people were homeless as a result. Thousands of families were unsafe in the middle of winter.

The government was not functioning properly. Also, Human Rights Watch said the expulsion derailed treatment for people with HIV/AIDS, and around 3,000 die from diseases each week and 1.3 million children had been orphaned.

The early months of 2006 were noticed by food shortages and mass hunger. Malnutrition also increased. The economy shrunk by 50% from 2000 to 2009. The inflation rate increased 8000%, it was noted as the world’s highest inflation in 2007. Harare’s water became untrustworthy in 2006 as a result of dysentery and cholera in December 2006 and January 2007. Unemployment increased to 60%. Earlier, Zimbabwe used to be one of the richest countries of Africa, now it’s one of the poorest.

By 2009, there was hyper-inflation to 500 billion percent under the Mugabe government. So, to revive from this inflation, Zimbabwe’s currency was rapidly devalued in 2009. Then, Zimbabwe used the US dollar as a currency, and the economy improved to 10% per year. Zimbabwe has a 1 hundred trillion dollars note.

By 2016, the economy collapsed and there were nationwide protests. Also, cash became scarce in the market in the year 2017. A new president Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected in 2019.

In January 2019 price of fuel 130% increased due to the policy imposed by the government. There were massive protests and poverty increased. By mid-July 2019 inflation again increased to 175%.

Due to this pandemic, the condition got worst and Zimbabwe’s government says at least 7.6 million people will fall into poverty. The poor policies of the government pushed inflation to the worst level. Due to lockdown and improper treatment many people died due to hunger, also food shortages increased.

In 2020, 63% of the population went into poverty and 23% of children have stunted growth. The scarcity of fuel and cornmeal increased.

As per my opinion, the government should control inflation by contractionary monetary policy. In this policy government reduces the rates bond, people will invest and they will get the interest and hence inflation will be controlled. As people will give the money to the government and after some time people will get interested.

Another method can be, if the government has enough money, they could import more goods, so that the goods are abundant and hence, there will be deflation. The main point is that government needs strict action to improve its economy. The government should provide social benefits to improve the state of the people. The government should convince the prime minister of other countries so that unemployment can be reduced.

Feature image credits: Wikimedia Commons
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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