International reductions Zambia claims that the country’s debt is hindering the government’s capacity to achieve obligations on gender equality and the promotion of women and girls’ rights.
Jane Zulu, who presented her paper Debt and its Effect on Women and Children at a media workshop organised by Cuts International, says this is because the costs of debt servicing are disproportionately borne by women and girls, while the funds borrowed are rarely spent in ways that prioritise women and girls’ rights.
Ms Zulu indicated in her presentations that excessive debt service burden puts pressure on governments to boost revenues, frequently through indirect taxes such as VAT, which is regressive and has a disproportionate impact on women.
“Reduced social sector spending has an impact on women and girls, who are the majority users of these services due to existing inequalities that determine gender roles and responsibilities, while undervaluing their contribution,” she added.
Ms Zulu remarked that the informal sector provides for 68 percent of employment in the nation, adding that with the high cost of doing business, most enterprises have encountered interruptions owing to the depreciated kwacha, which, combined with the ongoing epidemic, has worsened 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.