Victor Maphosa and Ellen Chasokela
President Mnangagwa yesterday pledged to work towards full equality and empowerment of women as Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Women’s Day tomorrow.
The day, which was declared by the United Nations in 1975, is celebrated on March 8 every year.
Posting on Twitter, President Mnangagwa said: “On International Women’s Day we celebrate the strong, empowered Zimbabwean women who contribute so much to our nation. We will continue to work towards full equality and further empowerment for girls and women in the new Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa’s administration has prioritised women empowerment programmes as evidenced by such initiatives as the establishment of the Zimbabwe Women Micro-Finance Bank, which has so far disbursed about $3,6 million in loans to support various projects by women.
Women have also been appointed in various positions of authority as part of a cocktail of measures to empower them.
This year’s national commemorations will be at Nemangwe Business Centre, Gokwe South District in the Midlands Province under the theme, “Sustainable Infrastructure and Access to Public Services for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women”, and the international theme is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.
Addressing the media in Harare yesterday, Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said it was a day to reflect on the progress made in the advancement of women’s issues.
“On this day we celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements, their courage and significant determination in contributing to the country’s well-being,” she said.
“It is a day that gives women a platform to share their common concerns so that they work together towards a common goal. The day has become important in acknowledging the voices of women and taking note of their diversity, their different roles and circumstances.”
Dr Nyoni said Zimbabwe will commemorate the day guided by various objectives such as sharing their experiences and initiatives in addressing the challenges faced by women, raising awareness on the need and importance of gender equality and advocating for social protection, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for women and girls.
“The majority of women have limited access to education and yet access to education and training has a major impact on their potential to access and benefit from income generating opportunities which improve their overall well-being,” she said.
“There is need to employ a variety of approaches to address the various challenges they face which include enrolment in non-formal education, technical and vocational training, agriculture extension services, workplace training and training in new technologies.”
Dr Nyoni said access to infrastructure by women provided unprecedented opportunities which enabled them to come up with innovations to achieve transformative gains for society.
“It is vital that women ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of innovations that shape our future societies,” she said.
“My ministry has put in place some programmes to ensure that women effectively participate in mining, agriculture, tourism, trade and manufacturing.
“These are being implemented under a Broad-Based Women Economic Empowerment Framework which calls for the participation of women in key economic sectors.
“The significant hindrance to women’s potential to achieve their greatness has been financial exclusion which the new dispensation has addressed through the establishment of the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank.
“The bank complements the other women empowerment facilities such as the Women’s Development Fund, Zimbabwe Community Development Fund and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Women’s Empowerment Fund.
“These funds are revolving loans aimed at promoting the economic empowerment of women through the provision of collateral free loans.”
Dr Nyoni said this year’s international theme was in tandem with the vision of the new dispensation which emphasises economic recovery and making Zimbabwe a middle income country by 2030.