from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – IMPROVING digital innovation and technology for Zimbabweans is key to addressing financial exclusion as well as bridging the gender divide in the country.
This is according to leading global payments company as technology continues to be an influential tool in enhancing growth and expanding opportunities for women’s rights across the world.
WorldRemit noted that in Zimbabwe, a history of economic collapse, poverty and employment equality has, over the years, weakened the country’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector, heightening the digital divide and creating a digital gender gap.
Darryl Pietersen, Director, Anglophone Africa, WorldRemit, said as is the case in the rest of the Sub-Saharan Africa region, women and girls in Zimbabwe are disproportionately impacted by other challenges affecting the rest of the world today.
“They (women) are more exposed to challenges such as poverty, high inflation rates and high maternal mortality,” he stated
A finding by World Food Programme (WFP) released in November 2022 indicated that Zimbabweans were significantly experiencing price spikes, supply chain disruptions and a general deterioration of macro-economic, especially for the vulnerable sections of the society, who include women as a result of the economic crisis in Ukraine.
According to the report, high inflation continued eroding the purchasing power of vulnerable urban households who rely on the market for essential needs and face challenges without external assistance.
Additionally, digital financial exclusion of women has made it difficult for many women to save, invest or start their businesses.
In Africa, women’s access to digital services, mobile and internet connectivity is limited due to illiteracy, cost, skills gap, and social norms.
Only a third of women in the continent have access to formal financial channels compared to 43 percent of men.
Pietersen said this gap and limited access to economic assets escalated women’s vulnerability and exclusion from profitable sectors and jobs, hence, providing women with digital financial services will increase economic empowerment, as women with more control over their finances are less likely to experience financial abuse.
Through WorldRemit, remittances sent to Zimbabwe are helping fight poverty and promote economic development.
A World Bank finding indicates that remittances are a vital source of household income and help recipient households build resilience. This enables them to cope better with losses in the aftermath of disasters.
Remittances are channelled towards education, healthcare and opening new businesses.
Pietersen said this enabled women to support their families, achieve their dreams and ultimately grow Zimbabwe’s economy.
“By leveraging technology, we deliver quick, secure, and convenient money transfer services supporting women and girls’ advancement and inclusion not just in Zimbabwe but across the continent,” he concluded.
– CAJ News