Source: Manica Post
WOMEN'S economic empowerment is a major thrust of the national gender machinery's plans and programmes to advance gender equality and secure women's socio-economic rights. Zimbabwe has two initiatives to increase Government's capacity to deliver on (a) gender responsive economic and financial policy formulation and (b) to deliver better on the allocation of resources to improve the lived realities of women and girls that is Gender Responsive Budgeting and the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative.

Women in Zimbabwe are said to have made more inroads into key decision making positions in the public sphere of politics and governance although they are still well below 30 percent in the economic arena where more research is required.
The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Charter, which sets out the principles and framework for achieving indigenisation and economic empowerment, includes provisions for "equal opportunities for all, including gender sensitive ownership and participation in the economy by indigenous Zimbabweans."
Government has adopted the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative to mainstream gender into macro- economic and finance policy development and implementation, economic planning and economic policy analysis so that policies deliver equally to low income women and men. This global initiative is currently in Africa, Asia and the Pacific regions.
Women's economic empowerment depends on among other factors education and skills, accesss to finance and credit, a favourable policy framework that seeks to break through gender disparities to provide economic opportunities, training funds and programmes specifically for women in both rural and urban areas.

Women in the informal sector and informal trade is another area where far more research is needed to provide gender disaggregated data, as well as trends and shifts in the sector since the economic crisis in 2008 and in light of the more stable economic and political environment in the country.
According to a 2004 Labour Force Survey, women were the majority in the country's informal sector at 53 percent and over 70 percent of the people in the lower paying side of the informal sectors were women.
However, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Economic Development has since created a women's fund to finance income generating projects for women in the country.
In her foreword in the Broad Based Women's Economic Empowerment Framework Compilation, the Minister for Women Affairs Gender and Community Development, Dr Olivia Muchena, said: "In the Medium Term Economic Recovery Plan, Government expressly committed itself to advancing the participation of women in the productive sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing and construction through practical solutions to meaningfully empower women."
The provincial director in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Ms Chido Tsinakwadi, said as a ministry their mandate was to empower women in all sectors.
"We lobby and advocate for a conjucive environment where we can encourage and facilitate women to take part empowerment programmes like in agriculture, health, sports, trade and business just to mention some of the sectors," she said.
"We consider all women whether literate or illiterate. We don't want them to be stressed just because they are not financially empowered that is why you find that we have a fund for women and micro-finance projects for them in their communities.
"As a ministry, we want women to grow bigger into business and go commercial and contribute significantly to the community," she said.

Ms Tsinakwadi also said that the ministry valued capacity building and trainings as well as exchange programmes for women in order for them to be fully empowered.
Community development officer in the same ministry, Mr Gabriel Jaji, said women empowerment was working out well as there were several areas where women were being recognised and given opportunities.
"Banks are being flexible to women. In the past women had difficulties in accessing loans, but banks are now empowering women in Manicaland through credit lines and they are able to start up self sustaining projects."

Mr Jaji said some women were now into mining.
"Women also have claims although there is still a demand of them to be involved in diamond cutting and polishing. I had the opportunity to visit India where it is done and I believe Zimbabwean women can excel in this area," said Jaji.
"Overally women are not being fully represented in empowerment boards like the Affirmative Action Group. They are not well represented when it comes to their economic empowerment and it means males make decisions on their behalf.
"We need meaningful 50/50 representation." — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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