Gender and social security in Zimbabwe: An analysis of the efficacy of social security for women with disabilities in the informal sector
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This dissertation interrogates the provision of and access to social security from a gendered perspective with particular reference to women with disabilities in the informal sector in Zimbabwe. This is an area of great interest to the writer who has and continues to interact extensively with women with disabilities at a personal and professional level, being a lawyer at the department of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. The main argument that the writer seeks to earnestly put across is that despite the existence of the principles of equality and nondiscrimination, the idealistic notion that women with disabilities have a right to social security on an equal basis with everyone is still a dream whose fulfillment sadly remains uncertain in Zimbabwe. Through disability friendly research methods such as the one the writer chooses to call the sex, gender and disability analysis and the grounded approach, within the rubric of the women’s law approach, the writer passionately examines the torrid lived experiences of women with disabilities, mainly in the informal sector, insofar as they access or fail to access social security schemes. Through an integration of information obtained from secondary sources of data such as books, legal instruments, online journals and articles, and data gathered during interviews with women and men with disabilities, women without disabilities and officials from the department of Social Services in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, the challenges faced by women with disabilities in accessing social security are unearthed. The overall picture obtained from the research findings is that the majority of women with disabilities are excluded from both formal and informal social security schemes due to, inter alia, the non-comprehensive and fragmented nature of formal social security mechanisms, the unregulated and inconsistent nature of informal safety nets and constrained financial resources on the part of women with disabilities to contribute to their coverage. This is compounded by the finding that there is no comprehensive disability sensitive social security legal regime that guarantees women with disabilities the right to social security and which they could use to take responsible authorities to task for not providing such social security. Drawing from literature reviewed and primary sources of data, the writer recommends the establishment of a strong constitutional foundation for the respect, protection, promotion and fulfillment of the right to social security. This should be complemented by the enactment of a comprehensive disability and gender sensitive Act. This will set a serious tone which will compel or oblige policy makers to allocate substantial resources towards the funding of social security schemes targeting women with disabilities.