National budget must prioritise women

Women groups say that the 2015 national budget should put women and gender issues at the centre of its focus.

Oppah Muchinguri - her ministry is working hard to mobilise resources to implement projects lined up for the year.
Oppah Muchinguri – her ministry is working hard to mobilise resources to implement projects lined up for the year.

Finance and Economic Development deputy minister Samuel Undenge said last week that consultation workshops with other ministries were currently underway,

Women interviewed by The Zimbabwean said the Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa should make concrete plans to encourage their economic independence.

Theresa Tshuma, the chair of the Association of Women Clubs in Zimbabwe, said the budget should outline a comprehensive programme that, among other things, offers skills training and revision activities geared for women. “The budget should take into account the needs of mothers for flexible working conditions and childcare facilities. Although it takes two people to make a baby, very often only mothers bear the burden of care, making it very difficult to care for themselves and their children while working towards economic stability,” she said.

Empower women

Tshuma said the national budget should help women get back on their feet, while ensuring that their children are cared for. “This is one of our budget plans that should be designed to not only support families in the short term, but, more importantly, empower women financially, through skills development and opportunities that help them to help themselves,” she said.

“For example, very often women have problems accessing finance to start or grow businesses. To address this problem, the minister should create a development fund for women to provide loans to women without any collateral,” said Tshuma.

She added that more funds should be channelled to HIV and AIDS so that organisations can get more grants for their sensitisation, prevention and awareness campaigns.

Yvonne Katuruza, director of Zimbabwe Woman Action Group (ZWAG), said the government should recognise that many social problems had a feminine face. “The 2015 budgets should be earmarked to increase the employability of women, the eradication of poverty and assistance to victims and survivors of gender violence,” she said, adding that the budget must come with programmes and action plans for proper monitoring and evaluation.

Life skills

“The budget should be explicit that the eradication of poverty among the women should be specifically targeted. The emphasis on education for children and life skills for their parents should ease poverty,” she said. “This includes looking at the impact that national resources can have on improving the lives of the women of this country.”

Remekedzai Mucheka, secretary general of the Women Resources Trust of Zimbabwe (WRTZ), said the 2015 budget should address the predicament of female unemployment. “More funds should be available for various women’s projects that include gender-based violence, training and other initiatives that involve women,” said Macheka.

The ministry of women’s affairs should be allocated funding needed to boost the coffers of the women’s development fund that would help the department to mobilise funds for women’s projects.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah Muchinguri, said her ministry was working hard to mobilise resources to ensure the implementation of projects that it had lined up for the year, after receiving only 1% of the vote of the 2014 National Budget.

Last year, the ministry received $5,1 million our of an original bid of $30,2 million from the $4,1 billion National Budget, leaving a funding deficit of $25,1 million. But it did managed to secure some alternative income to finance projects for 2014 after the budget allocation fell short of the target.

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