Global Activism: Women’s Health in Zimbabwe

April 17, 2007

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Elizabeth Mhangami — Senior, Loyola University Chicago; Co-President, Feminist Forum

Zimbabwe
has the highest level of inflation in the world…at nearly two thousand percent.  Inflation has gotten so bad, the Mugabe government has refused to publish recent figures and the IMF has said that the rate of inflation is projected to reach 5000% by the end of the year.   

Imagine you bought a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe for a $1.50 two months ago.  Today, after just two months of inflation, that same loaf of bread would cost almost six dollars.

Supplies of food, basic medical items and fuel are often not available in stores, even as prices continue to skyrocket.    

Over ten million people live below the poverty-line, out of a population 13 million, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.[1]

Today, Zimbabwe State Radio reported that the Mugabe government has revoked the licenses of all aid groups and NGOs operating in the country.  The Information Minister said that the move was made “in order to screen out agents of imperialism from organisations working to uplift the wellbeing of the poor.” [2]

Mugabe has said he blames meddling by the US and Western Europe for the economic meltdown that's occurred under his management.   

NGOs raised concerns that the registration crackdown would harm efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and to alleviate the acute shortage of food and medical care.

Elizabeth Mhangami is a senior at Loyola University Chicago, where's she's co-president of the Feminist Forum.

She left her home in Zimbabwe and came to Chicago in 1999.  She's been involved in raising awareness of the increasingly desperate economic problems for women in her home country. 

The economic crisis has especially hurt poor and working-class Zimbabwean women.  Inflation and poverty have made sanitary products too expensive to buy in cities and nearly completely unavailable for women in rural communities.

Elizabeth is trying to help those women with her “Dignity for Women of Zimbabwe” campaign, which she's launching tomorrow, on the 27th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence.

Elizabeth told Jerome how she was born at a historic moment in her country's history.