Women and girls should enjoy equal access, control and ownership of resources – govt

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By Anna Chibamu

WOMEN Affairs minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said her focus is on addressing gender inequality, creating an enabling environment for women to enjoy access, control and ownership of resources.

She said this during a recent engagement with the women’s movement in Harare.

Mutsvangwa told the CSO’s representatives that women in Zimbabwe and all over the world still faced challenges that hinder the full enjoyment of rights, achievement of gender equality and economic empowerment.

“Women and girls remain comparatively more disadvantaged than their male counterparts in several areas.

“These include gender gaps and unequal access to resources, opportunities and meaningful decision-making positions and inadequate reproductive health services, gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful norms and practices perpetuated by patriarchy, amongst others remain serious constraints to women’s advancement and achievement of gender equality and equity,” Mutsvangwa said.

Regardless of the challenges, Mutsvangwa promised she would put all her energy into making sure women and girls access all opportunities.

“As we embark on this journey, my thrust is undoubtedly premised on creating an enabling environment for women and girls to enjoy equal and equitable access, control and ownership of resources to address gender inequalities.

“This is the basis for addressing all other aspects which include economic empowerment, gender-based violence and increased meaningful participation in decision-making positions, to name just a few,” highlighted the minister.

She also stated that the adoption of the 2013 constitution was a major milestone in the history of the country and most importantly for Zimbabwean women, as it is progressive in advancing women’s rights.

“The constitution contains an expansive bill of rights, gender equality notions and specific and elaborate rights for women.

“Section 17 of the Constitution calls upon the government to ensure full gender balance and to take measures to promote the full participation of women in all spheres on the basis of equality with men including equal representation in all institutions, agencies of government, commissions and other elective bodies at all levels.”

She further expressed that women’s access to resources, including land on the basis of equality with men was also guaranteed in the constitution.

“The government has taken a step further by enacting and amending several laws to ensure that we protect women’s rights in labour, property, health and education which comply with several International women’s human rights principles.”

Some of the laws introduced amongst many progressive laws include the recent Labour Amendment Act of 2023 with Maternity leave provisions improved.

Also, the Domestic Violence Act which provides for protection and relief to survivors of domestic violence has been put in place to protect those who are violated.

“Referring to the women and men who attended the event, Mutsvangwa urged them to work well with her ministry.

“We shall need to work together. The beauty in having diverse stakeholders as we have in this room today, is in the rich resource base that you all bring to the table.

“I value the experiences you have had along the years which have shaped, informed and strengthened your delivery and capacities in driving the gender agenda as well as contributing towards the realisation of SDG 5,” she added.

She pleaded with the women to continue with the great work, and where possible engage in collaborative efforts as they deliver in their respective sectors.

“We have emerging issues such as climate change and these have a significant impact on the lives of communities, and specifically women and girls. COVID-19 taught us the need for emergency preparedness and response as we all witnessed the impact it had on economic livelihoods, coupled with the increase in numbers of GBV, teen pregnancies and child marriage.”

However, she warned that a number of deterrents which included patriarchy and gender stereotyping had resulted in reduced access to strategic resources and economic opportunities by women.

“This has a direct effect on women’s limited access to education and training, decision-making, and political participation amongst many others.

“There is a need to complement the implementation of gender-responsive laws with awareness-raising, capacity-building and engagement at community level in order to achieve full support, make positive changes and mitigate backlash.

“Strengthen and support the roles of men and boys, women and girls, religious and community leaders, public and private sectors, as well as civil society organizations in changing social norms,” added Mutsvangwa.