Monica Mutsvangwa, The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development yesterday met with Women Rights Organisation’s, Women in business and Women’s Movement in Zimbabwe on a meet and greet mission following her cabinet nomination recently.

The exercise was meant to strengthen Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) engagement and partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe in advancing gender equality and equity in line with the Constitution.

“I am excited to be with you today, as I start my engagements with stakeholders that I shall be working with in my new portfolio.

My Ministry bears a broad and very critical mandate to formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate policies and programmes for women`s empowerment, gender equality, resilient communities, Medium to Small Enterprises and cooperatives development, as well as to coordinate stakeholders in these sectors.

As we may know, women constitute the majority of our population at 52%.

In the same vein, the ZIMSTATS 2021 MSME Survey reported that there are 3.4 million MSMEs operating in Zimbabwe with 56.4% of the enterprises being women. This presents us with a huge responsibility to the Nation, and as such we must work together to fulfil the expectations of the constituency we serve”, Mutsvangwa said.

Women in Zimbabwe and all over the world face numerous challenges that hinder the full enjoyment of rights, achievement of gender equality and economic empowerment.

Women and girls remain comparatively more disadvantaged than their male counterparts in several areas.

These include gender gaps and unequal access to resources, opportunities and meaningful decision-making positions.

Inadequate reproductive health services, gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful norms and practices perpetuated by patriarchy, amongst others remain serious constraints to women’s advancement and achievement of gender equality and equity.

Mutsvangwa wentbon to say, “As we embark on this journey, my thrust is undoubtedly premised on creating an enabling environment for women and girls to enjoy equal and equitable access, control and ownership of resources to address gender inequalities. 

This is the basis for addressing all other aspects which include economic empowerment, gender based violence and increased meaningful participation in decision making positions, to name just a few”.

Zimbabwe Constitution identifies Gender equality as one of the nine (9) founding values and principles for the Country, and this provides the armour to push for realisation of gender equality in the country.

The adoption of the 2013 Constitution was a major milestone in the history of Zimbabwe and most importantly for Zimbabwean women as it is progressive in advancing women’s rights; it contains an expansive bill of rights, gender equality notions and specific and elaborate rights for women.

Section 17 of the Constitution calls upon government to ensure full gender balance and to take measures to promote the full participation of women in all spheres on the basis of equality with men.

This includes equal representation in all institutions, agencies of government, commissions and other elective bodies at all levels.

Women’s access to resources, including land on the basis of equality with men is also guaranteed.

The Government of Zimbabwe has taken a step further by enacting and amending several laws to ensure that we protect women rights in labour, to property, health and education which comply several International women’s human rights principles.

The Ministry will play a coordinating role to ensure that stake holders work together for the common good.

“The beauty in having diverse stakeholders as we have in this room today, is in the rich resource base that you all bring on the table.

I value the experiences you have had along the years which have shaped, informed and strengthened your delivery and capacities in driving the gender agenda as well as contributing towards the realisation of SDG 5.  

I acknowledge that over the years, new initiatives have emerged and grown within the ever changing contexts”, said Mutsvangwa.

New generations and new approaches of programming have taken shape, and significant successes in policy and legal reform have taken place.

Mutsvangwa pleaded with the CSOs that they continue doing great work, and where possible engage in collaborative efforts so as to deliver in their respective sectors.

Emerging issues such as climate change have significant impact on the lives of communities and specifically women and girls.

COVID-19 taught the need for emergency preparedness and response.

It also revealed the impact on economic livelihoods, coupled with the increase in numbers of GBV, teen pregnancies and child marriage.

A number of deterrents which include patriarchy and gender stereotyping have resulted in reduced access to strategic resources and economic opportunities by women.

This has a direct effect on women’s limited access to education and training, decision making, political participation amongst many others.

The Minister was pleased that the engagement has allowed her to have an appreciation of the incredible work the organisations were doing.  

She added on that, it is such platforms that bring solidarity amongst organisations since meaningfully achievements are attained if all speak with one voice.

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