Covid-19: How gender roles affect a female varsity student – Tell Zimbabwe


Tariro Nendanga


Felix Matasva

Tertiary education is no longer rosy for a 23-year-old Dangamvura based
Midlands State University (MSU) female student because the new way of learning
through the internet at home is being
affected by traditional gender roles in the wake of Covid-19.

since Zimbabwe implemented a national lockdown in March 2020 as part of efforts
to contain the spread of deadly coronavirus, tertiary institutions had to
integrate online technologies that enable students to learn from home.

the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths escalated during the past festive
season, the country reverted to a hard lockdown with universities
rescinding face-to-face lessons.

Tariro Nendanga (23), not real name, a female student
studying for an Honours Degree in Media and Society Studies at MSU, says she is
finding the online learning very tough as she has to balance many priorities at

For Tariro, the process of adapting physical lectures
to e-learning in the wake of Covid-19 is not at all rosy.

There is a set of responsibilties, skills, attitude
and behaviour that is expected of Tariro by her father as well as by the wider
society, and these expectations are seldom supportive to the demands for online

Tariro’s situation represents the life of many female
tertiary students who are being deprived of their right to education due to
traditional gender roles.

She says her family does not accord her extra time to
focus on her school work as would be necessary under the new learning

from home has not been easy for me
as I
am required to go through
several house
chores before I can settle down for school work

“I had, however, expected that there would be an understanding that since
e-learning requires more time, I would be spared some of the home duties,”
Tariro told TellZim News.

She says being on campus was more favourable to her studying
routines as she had more time to concentrate on her school work with much less

“My father treats me like a maid and does
not consider that I am still a student. I cannot
study or write my assignments in time because I will be preoccupied with house

“I sweep the houses, do all the laundry, wash
dishes, fetch water and by the time I try to log into my e-library, my mind is exhausted. 

“He does not assign such duties to my brother as he considers them to be for
girls. He says a woman’s education is nothing when she can not perform her
daily house chores,” said Nendanga.

She once engaged her church so that church leaders
could speak sense to her father but it did not help.

“Our Church members told me to perform all my
duties and responsibilities as expected of a woman by society. They said no matter how busy, I could still manage,” she said.

Tariro also said other problems like lack of reliable
access to the internet as well as the high cost of data were other challenges
she faces.

mobile data that I use to get into the internet is expensive and sometimes my
area loses access due to the rainy weather conditions,” said Tariro.

She says she would be glad if the lockdown got lifted
as that would mean the resumption of physical lectures.



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