The Sunday Mail
John Manzongo in New York, USA
Zimbabwe has made great strides to improve the livelihoods of women, with various programmes targeting them in agriculture, business and incorporation into the country’s planning processes, a Cabinet minister has said.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said women in rural Zimbabwe were major beneficiaries of Government developmental programmes.
Minister Mutsvangwa said this while addressing delegates last Friday in New York during a “Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC)”, a side event at the 63rd United Nations Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
“Women farmers in rural areas constitute the majority of beneficiaries of subsidised (agriculture) inputs.
‘‘Government has come up with programmes such as irrigation and tillage support to reduce the burden faced by these women,” said the minister.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government was financially assisting women through the revolving women’s development and community development funds that are assisting women to finance their community gardens, poultry, honey production and livestock programmes.
“The recently launched Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank provides non-collateral loans to women at the grassroot levels to sustain their economic activities like cross border trading, fruit and vegetable vending.
“Women are also participating in rural infrastructure planning in areas such as clinics and schools.”
Minister Mutsvangwa told the delegates that Government continued to conduct vulnerability surveys to identify families in need of assistance.
She said disadvantaged people in the country were benefiting from Government food aid and free medical care in public hospitals among other measures.
“There is, however, still more that needs to be done pertaining to the provision of transport to ensure pregnant women have easy access to health institutions.
“As a result of strong lobbying from women’s groups including the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Government recently scrapped maternity fees and this has gone a long way in ensuring that women access maternity care leading to reduced maternal mortality,” she added.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government had also established a well-coordinated multi-sectorial approach to address gender-based violence which mostly affects more women than men.
She said channels had been established to assist abused women access services such as psychosocial support, health, legal aid, protection and safe shelter.
“Victim friendly systems such as the victim friendly units managed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Victim Friendly Courts managed by the Judicial Service Commission are there to help deal with gender-based violence and these units constantly carrying out awareness campaigns in communities and schools,” she said.