$5m Swedish boost for women

HARARE - The Swedish Government has contributed $5,3 million towards a joint programme that seeks to accelerate Zimbabwe’s gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Sweden’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lars Ronnas told guests at the launch that her country’s support for the programme was based on the programmes’ relevance to Zimbabwe and its alignment to international norms on gender equality.

The programme is premised on four pillars namely; combating all forms of gender-based violence (GBV), women’s political participation and influence, economic empowerment and national accountability on gender and women’s empowerment.

“Sweden has a long history of promoting gender equality globally. Equal rights and opportunities between women and men are what we all 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,” Ronnas said.

He highlighted that his government was pleased with the programme, as it takes a holistic approach, as gender equality needs to be dealt with in different levels and look at the structures in society that underpin inequality.

Ambassador  Ronnas indicated that the programme targets women’s economic empowerment, as they should be represented in formal and informal decision-making.

“Women in rural Zimbabwe have particularly  an important role in food security and bringing about a change for a better life. However, these women often lack access to control over resources, to be able to invest and have access to markets,” Ronnas said.

Women Affairs and  Gender minister, Oppah Muchinguri said although her ministry has introduced mechanisms to support women, gender mainstreaming was yet to be realised.

“As a result, women in Zimbabwe continue to have unequal access to finances, skills and markets in all sectors of the economy,” Muchinguri said.

She also highlighted that GBV was a major impediment to women’s development, citing that 42 percent of women have either experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Officer-in-charge UN Women in Zimbabwe, Kemal Mustafa said women remained underrepresented in all the sectors identified in ZimAsset.

“Whether it is in agriculture, in terms of the levels of inequality to access to machinery, means of production and resources, in mining and manufacturing...There is still a long way ahead. And if we are going to achieve gender equality then we need different strategies in terms of engendering ZimAsset if it is really going to deliver in terms of cluster targets,” Mustafa said.

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