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Domestic worker, single mother, and head of household: Lovenness Zimba experiences the impact of COVID-19 in Zambia

by IDWFED published Jun 01, 2020 09:49 PM


Zambia -

COVID-19 has dramatically affected domestic workers in many ways: they are discriminated against further, their contracts are terminated, and their salaries are cut in half. That is, of course, if they are getting paid at all. 

Lovenness Zimba is a domestic worker from the Ng’ombe area in Zambia. She is a member of the Domestic Workers Union of Zambia-DWUZ. Zimba is 45 years old and a divorced mother of 5. Her ex-husband is not providing for the family, and not even supporting the children. Her only means of survival to provide for herself and her children is domestic work. 

The outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 has affected Zimba and many workers like her. She was forced to go on leave with no salary. At the end of April, her employer gave her a call to inform her that he will be paying her half a salary only and terminating the contract right after. The employer did not consider Zimba’s dependence on the salary for the livelihood or her family, neither the difficulties that she will face as a single mother and head of a household.

From the little money Zimba received from her employer, she began a small business of selling tomatoes and potatoes. Although entrepreneurial, the small endeavor does not pay much due to the lockdown. However, it is helping her feed the children. 

The union leaders have been visiting and counseling her with the family. Zimba is worried that her children will suffer like she did, and she is putting her efforts so they may live a life better than hers. Zimba contacted governmental authorities asking them to consider domestic workers and their families within their relief plans, as they are a population direly affected by COVID-19. The government is trying to see to it: no one should be sent away from their employment at a time of crisis with no pay. Most employers, however, do not abide by the government’s directives.

Zimba is among the domestic workers mapped by the Domestic Workers Union of Zambia-DWUZ as in need of emergency assistance, and she will receive it through the IDWF emergency fund.