Economic Justice for Women Project (EJWP) joins Zimbabwe in commemorating National Youth Day, a day meant to celebrate the efforts of young people to build the country. This year’s theme is “Reducing substance and drug abuse among young people”.
Youth in Zimbabwe constitute 67.7% of its 13 million population, with the majority being young women. The contemporary status of young women in Zimbabwe reflects increasing socio-economic inequalities. The minimal attention given to corruption and abuse of partisan power in the distribution and use of public resources has had an impact on the provision of adequate social services, which is reflected in the socio-economic status of young people . Therefore, it reminds us of the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on the futile efforts of young women towards economic independence. This has led to rising levels of unemployment and a rapid transition into the informal sector. The informal sector is characterized by high levels of violence, abuse and its returns fail to meet the basic needs of young people, resulting in higher levels of stress, hopelessness and anxiety. This has led to increased levels of alcohol, drug and substance abuse as coping mechanisms. Research conducted indicates that the prevalence of drug abuse is 57% among young people in Zimbabwe. Young women are more vulnerable, as evidenced by the increase in gender-based violence, rape, teenage pregnancy, suicide and other mental health disorders.
To this end, the EJWP calls on the government, through the following ministries, to consider the respective recommendations:
- Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development – To cement the advocacy efforts of the women’s movement to improve the socio-economic security of young women.
- Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation – to amplify and implement calls for social and economic support for young people in Zimbabwe, especially vulnerable groups. The ministry should strive to strengthen the participation of young women in all development processes to ensure they are inclusive, democratic and address issues on the ground.
- Ministry of Health and Child Care – Need to strengthen psychosocial support by creating community-friendly institutions/environments and support networks
- Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage – Strengthen investigative and punitive measures to end drug trafficking through Zimbabwe, ensuring justice for all survivors.
- Ministry of Finance and Economic Development – Adequately fund the respective ministry with a mandate to provide socio-economic support to young women and to end drug trafficking.
- Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education – Facilitate young women’s access to education and raise their awareness of drug addiction and its consequences.
- Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises – Increase economic opportunities for young people, facilitate their growth and independence, reducing their vulnerability to despair and anxiety that can trigger drug and substance abuse.
- Civil Society Organizations – Collaborate strategically between ourselves, relevant ministries, parliamentarians and all citizens to combat drug abuse among young people, especially young women.
Happy National Youth Day!!!