Keeping families alive in Zimbabwe

Date: January 1, 1970
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This article looks at the life of a Zimbabwean woman who, forced by economic hardships in her country, was forced to leave behind her family to try to eke out a living in South Africa.

This article may be used to:
1. Showcase best practices in gender aware reporting.
2. Provide an example of a gender aware economic report.
3. Provide a profile of a migrant woman and start discussion on the impact of migration on women.
4. Spark discussion around women’s roles and responsibilities, and the fact that many women are often forced to play both the role of caregiver and breadwinner.
Trainer’s notes
This article profiles Beauty Ndlovu, a 47 year old Zimbabwean woman who has had to leave her family back in Zimbabwe to come and work in South Africa. South Africa is seen as a land of opportunity, and many people flock to the country for work when they cannot find it at home. This article highlights the plight of many women in Zimbabwe who are forced to migrate in order to sustain their families. It illustrates many of the push and pull factors that drive migration. This story also captures current changes in economic reporting, where stories about women are starting to be reported on and incorporated. It also shows the realisation by media that women are no longer full-time homemakers, but for various reasons including increased poverty, economic decline, the desire for independent income, etc, go out and work.
What is interesting about this article is that Ndlovu says she has to take care of her two sons, both in their late 20s. One might question what her sons, who are adults themselves and could also be working to support the family, are doing back home. Ndlovu is just one of a legion of women who have decided to cross the border into South Africa to trade or seek work, showing that women are becoming more and more enterprising, and being compelled to take on more and more of the burden of supporting their families, in light of the Zimbabwean crisis. Ndlovu says she is worried bout the situation in Zimbabwe, but that if things get better she would like to go home. She even has plans to invest back home, and dreams of setting up a hair salon in Bulawayo. This article gives statistical evidence to support claims of economic decline in Zimbabwe such as inflation figures. This gives the report more weight and credibility.
Discussion questions
1. What does this article say about gender and the economy?
2. Women who decide to migrate are often forced to leave their families behind, often leaving young children in the care of relatives or older siblings for long periods. How would you feel if you had to leave your family behind?
3. What does this article say about the forces that push people to migrate? What impact do you think this has on women in particular?
4. What do you think of Ndlovu’s 2 sons who, in their late 20s, wait for their mother to fend for them?
5. When a woman goes out to find paid work, she is often still expected to care for her family and household. What impact does this have on the family? Why doesn’t this expectation exist for men?
Training Exercises
1. Interview migrant women in your community. Why did they leave home? What have they faced since arriving in South Africa? What were their expectations? How do they feel about having left their families? Were they the main breadwinner in their home country? How do they feel about having to become their family’s main source of financial support?
2.  Brainstorm a list of the push and pull factors that drive people to migrate. Brainstorm a list of situations migrants face on each stage of their travels, from deciding to leave home to crossing the border to arriving at their destination and looking for work. What kinds of things are migrants, especially women, vulnerable to at each stage of their journey and how do the various push and pull factors impact on how they might be able to deal with these vulnerabilities? Write an article, opinion piece or narrative about the kinds of situations migrant women face.
Links to other training resources
Gender and HIV: A Training Manual for Southern African Media and Communicators
Related GL Commentaries

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