THE Cuts International Zambia says Zambia’s debt is undermining the ability of the government to meet its commitments on gender equality and the promotion of women and girls` rights.
Jane Zulu said this during the presentation of a paper entitled ‘Debt and its Effect on Women and Children’ during a media workshop organized by Cuts International in Lusaka.
She said this is because the costs of servicing the debt are disproportionately borne by women and girls while the funds borrowed are rarely spent in ways that prioritize women and girls` rights.
Ms Zulu stated that inordinately high pressure to service debt places pressures to increase revenues often through indirect tax such as VAT, which is regressive and carries a disproportionate impact on women.
“The reduced expenditures in social sectors impact on women and girls who are the majority users of these services due to the existing inequalities that determine gender roles and responsibilities while devaluing their contribution, ” she said.
On the impact of the debt on the informal economy and COVID-19, Ms Zulu observed that the informal sector accounts for 68% of employment in the country adding that with the high cost of doing business, most businesses have experienced disruptions due to the depreciated kwacha, this coupled with the on-going pandemic has increased the burden.
“These dynamics affect women disproportionately. The informal sector accounts for 76 per cent of total employment for women. In this context, the COVID-19 crisis has had a dual impact on women in the country,” she said.
Ms Zulu on the one hand, said job losses in the informal sector are set to see an increase in female unemployment.
“On the other hand, caregiver burdens largely fall on women in Zambia. As a result of the unequal gender distribution of informal care in the household, women are likely to see their work and life opportunities further constrained in the aftermath of the pandemic,” she presented.