Thorny the Paths They Tread, Zimbabwean Women and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Womanist Reflection
This study investigated the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the women of Zimbabwe. Drawing from womanist perspectives, the study reflected on pastoral care, gender equality and proposed new ways of engaging the Bible while recognising the impact of hermeneutics on lived realities. The research examined situational analysis reports from government and nonprofit organisations, journal articles and other academic sources focusing on various aspects of Zimbabwean women’s contexts. Womanist perspectives were engaged to provide parameters for the reflection and the recommendation of alternatives that have potential to contribute towards the enhancement of women’s lives. The study revealed a significant economic impact on those in the informal sector, which is largely occupied by women. Moreover, during periods of lockdown, there was a significant increase in the cases of gender-based violence (GBV), intimate partner violence (IPV) and child marriages. Churches were also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted their operations even though many continued in their efforts to make a positive contribution to their members and society at large. While many churches had to discover creative ways to provide pastoral care for their flocks, when it comes to the complex challenges such as GBV, IPV, rape and child marriages, there is a lack of evidence demonstrating the church’s practical attempts towards addressing them.
Contribution: This paper suggests that gender equality and the employment of gender-sensitive biblical hermeneutics are alternatives that have real potential to contribute towards efforts targeted at safeguarding the liberation, well-being and flourishing of women during the pandemic and beyond. It also introduces seMadzimai, a womanist African-Zimbabwean Bible-reading approach.