The Market Aggregation COVID-19 Vendors Response – Market Access Project has revealed the need for women informal traders to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to sell their products as they have been hardest hit by the trade disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through COVID-19 awareness campaigns on radio programs funded by Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF), women have been encouraged to be resilient and adapt to the new normal, the COVID-19 era, through adherence to the guidelines and regulations.
Speaking at Skyz Metro FM Radio show, Doreen Selimani, a Market Bailiff encouraged women to take a stand and be flexible through coming up with innovative ideas of selling and marketing their products by embracing ICTs, especially Whatsapp and Facebook to market and sell their products.
“Those with children were affected by schools closure as there will be no one to supervise their children at home. During field work studies and visits to markets it was observed that young market women usually take their children with them,” said Madade Ndlovu, BVTA member and Market Bailiff. “Those who take their children with them to their workplaces may now be too concerned for their children’s safety than doing business,” Ndlovu told Vendors Voice.
Working from home is also difficult for women. “Some of us live in informal settlements in single rooms and we do not have enough space to work from,” Pretty Mpofu told Vendors Voice. For others, their jobs require them to be on-site, where they are in contact with their customers as the informal economy operates in clusters in different parts of the city where the customers are.
Zimbabwe is now largely an informal economy. The lockdown has impacted women’s ability to move around and engage in buying and selling of goods in order to earn a living. The government needs to identify strategies that allow women in the informal sector to continue conducting their businesses, while taking precautionary measures against contracting and spreading the corona virus.
According to the Bulawayo Informal Sector Advocacy Policy Research (2018) 54% of the informal sector in Zimbabwe is constituted by women and due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown restrictions, the capacity of women to identify alternative livelihood options in order to look after their families has been inhibited due to the lockdown that has limited women’s movement in their involvement in income generating initiatives.