Sweden boosts gender equity in Zim

The Swedish government has contributed $5,3 million towards the New Gender Equality Programme, government's first joint initiative aimed at promoting gender equality and women empowerment in Zimbabwe.

Oppah Muchinguri
Oppah Muchinguri

Set to run from 2014- 2017, the programme brings together United Nations agencies, some of which include the UN Women, the International Labor Organisation, United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund and the government of Zimbabwe.

It includes other development partners and a number of different gender equality advocates whose aim isto supportgovernment in attaining its gender development goals.

Speaking at the launch of the four year programme, the Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, LarsRonnås, said respect for women's rights would foster sustainable development.

Said Ronnås: "My government's support to this Joint Gender Programme is based on the programme's relevance to Zimbabwe and its alignment to international norms on gender equality.

"Equal rights between women and men are what we should work for in each and every society. Sustainable development cannot be achieved unless women's rights are respected, their voices heard and their skills counted."

The New Gender Equality programme seeks to support the promotion of women's political participation and influence in all spheres of life, contribute to their economic empowerment and improve their working conditions.

It also seeks to promote national accountability on gender equality and women's empowerment and aims at contributing towards the achievement of the gender targets of the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Framework (ZUNDAF) of 2012- 2015.

The Women's Affairs minister, Oppah Muchinguri, speaking at the launch of the programme, emphasised the importance of economic independence and empowerment as a means of achieving gender equality.

"My ministry has introduced several mechanisms to support women's economic growth in mining, agriculture and trade among others.

"Despite these initiatives, policies in certain sectors of the economy have not adequately mainstreamed gender and women in Zimbabwe continue to have unequal access to finances, skills and markets in all sectors of the economy," said Muchinguri.

The Zimbabwean government signed and ratified international and regional instruments for the promotion of women's welfare, among them the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Southern Africa Development Community Gender and Development Protocol.

In 2013, the country adopted a new Constitution, which has been hailed as a gender sensitive legal framework which, if adhered to, has the potential to improve gender equity and women's rights.

A 2012 research study done by the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Environmental Studies entitled "Understanding Poverty, Promoting Wellbeing and Sustainable Development: A sample survey of 16 districts of Zimbabwe" established that there are high levels of poverty among women in Zimbabwe.

"Poverty is overwhelmingly a rural phenomenon, particularly in the drier regions of the country," read the report. "The levels of poverty especially on women are so deep that any small instrumental adjustments to income will take a long time to have an impact."

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