HARARE Minister Of Women Affairs, Community, Small And Medium Enterprises Development, Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa revealed that women’s poverty was as a result of structural inequalities as she gave feedback on the Africa Union (AU) CSW68 pre-consultative meeting Monday morning.

The Government of Zimbabwe attended the African Union Pre CSW meetings.

The Africa- Pre CSW68 Ministerial Consultative Meeting was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the 14th of November 2023 which was preceded by the Experts meeting which was held from the 8th to the 09th of November 2023.

The priority theme for CSW68 is, Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.

The objective of the Pre CSW meetings was to review /deliberate on and adopt the Common Africa Position (CAP) for CSW68.

The Africa Position was prepared and presented by the Technical Experts, and agreement was reached on how Africa will be organized to speak with one voice at the Global CSW68 to be held in New York.

The meetings was to also build consensus among African countries around issues pertinent to gender equality and empowerment of women and girls with a view to promote a unified approach and adopt a common agenda on gender equality and women empowerment so as to inform global platforms at CSW68.

The main discussions of the AU Ministerial Meetings were centred on the Zero Draft Outcome Document.

Zimbabwe had an opportunity to input into the Outcome Document/ Africa Common Position which will be presented in New York as Africa’s position pertaining to accelerating the achievement of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing for gender equality.

This Outcome document will inform Africa’s engagement and participation at the CSW68 that will be held in New York.

“I managed to push for the issue of HIV/AIDS and the accountability of non-state actors for financing for gender equality to be included in the Common Africa Position.

Noting that HIV/AIDS was one of the pandemics that inhibited the participation of women and exacerbating issues of poverty to women, I also highlighted that as a country we have made great strides in responding to HIV/AIDS and has achieved 92-92-95 percentage targets close to the target of 95-95-95 percentage target”, Mutsvangwa said. 

Some of the recommendations that came from Pre CSW68 meetings included that:

Women’s poverty can be understood as a process of deprivation and depletion shaped by structural inequalities in the household, labour market, and state institutions, and exacerbated by women’s experience of intersectional discrimination.

It deprives women of the right to a decent standard of living, food security and nutrition, housing, quality healthcare and education.

The disproportionate amount of care and domestic work performed by women limits their time, access to decent work, quality education and health care.

This deprivation can also be seen in women unequal access to land and productive assets, finance, and in the restriction of their ability to participate fully and meaningfully and be included in policy decision making processes, including on issues of financing.

It is therefore imperative to “look beyond level and growth of national output and income, employment and inflation” to address issues of well-being and human rights of people.

This would require actions including measuring the value of unpaid care and domestic work to the economy, increasing investment in critical social infrastructure, and ensuring universal access to affordable, quality care services.

To transform the status and condition of women, there must be a recognition of the need to transform policies and services of public institutions with a view to promote transparency and access to information, which is both timely and accessible, so that people, including women living in poverty, can act based on knowledge of their rights.

Strong internal policies and accountability systems to women living in poverty are required and deliberate policies and processes which facilitate the effective realisation of women human rights put in place.

To strengthen women’s organisations and platforms as meaningful spaces to mobilise power, demand accountability, bringing together the voices, expertise and lived experiences of women living in poverty.

Taking into consideration the African context related to financing for development, gender equality and women’s rights, we agreed to set our priorities in the following areas: 

Take the appropriate social and political measures to address women’s poverty by adopting gender responsive budgeting tools and principles, increase investment in social infrastructure (health, education, social protection, etc), to strengthen women and girls’ capabilities, to reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care and domestic work and violence against women, amongst others.

Contribute to reforming the financial architecture and financial processes to be gender sensitive and invest in women rights institutions and organisations through strengthening and opening spaces for women and girls living in poverty to enable women organising and demanding accountability from State and non-governmental institutions operating within the jurisdiction of the respective states.

Building sustainable and inclusive infrastructure and ensuring access to food and nutrition and health services especially in situation of livelihood loss resulting from conflict, climate disaster and humanitarian crisis.

The contributions inform the development of new initiatives, resolutions and strategies that will accelerate progress on gender equality and women empowerment in our country.

Mutsvangwa went to say, “I am happy that as a country we have already initiated our preparations for our participation at CSW68.

As the Zimbabwe delegation, we are expected to work together for our side events to be a success”.

Mutsvangwa desires that the relationship that have been built will not end after CSW68 but will continue as the country endeavour to empower women and girls.

There is need for collective efforts between Government, Parliament and Civil Society Organizations and Private Sector towards the realisation of empowerment and transformation of lives of our women and girls.

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