Women didn’t get land

Every day Priscilla Jerahuni visits her vegetable garden to coax the soil to produce food for her family.

Women continue to work the land in the hope of providing food for their families.
Women continue to work the land in the hope of providing food for their families.

Priscilla is a mother of three and is married to Jorum Chiradza who assists her with the gardening in Chihota communal lands under chief Mudzimurehwa in Rusere village.

For the most part she and her hoe to the back-breaking work under the harsh sun, but like many other women in Zimbabwe she is resilient and has hope that one day the government will help her to develop a sustainable project.

“I live on farming vegetables, sometimes it’s very difficult because we do not have inputs, but that is how we survive. Water here is a problem and when we go to the market in Harare our produce is often of poor quality because we do not have inputs such as fertilizers,” said Priscilla.

According to women’s rights groups only 12 percent of women benefited from the land reform programme that sought to empower marginalized communities in the country. Currently Action Aid is undertaking a four year programme that seeks to lobby for women's empowerment through land rights. According to Action Aid, most women work the land, but only through their male relatives.

“Their user rights are very fragile which can be seen upon divorce or death of their relatives,” a spokesperson for Action Aid said.

Priscilla knows that she should change her focus to more sustainable projects such as keeping chicken, but she does not have the capital to invest in such an initiative.

“We have heard about the ministry of women affairs but they never come to us. Maybe they help those well connected or maybe we are too ignorant as to how the money is obtained,” said Priscilla.

Deputy Minister of Women, Gender and Community Development Jessie Majome said about the loans: “We have money that is being given to women and women should apply to the ministry. The MPs should play an active role in informing women about the funds.”

To empower women, the ministry is currently disbursing loans of up to US$10 000. The loan facility is for a maximum period of six months at a cost of five percent, a charge which even Priscilla can afford.

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