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Monday, July 15, 2024

Zim makes inroads in lessening GBV burden on women – Minister Mutsvangwa

Story by Justin Mahlahla

The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa says the Government of Zimbabwe is implementing various programmes to empower women and reduce the burden of gender-based violence.

She was addressing the Global Forum against Discrimination of Women in São Paulo, Brazil.

“One of the major drivers of Gender Based Violence in families is poverty. Families often have to deal with challenges of lack of income and other basic necessities and this exerts a lot of pressure which in some instances result in violence towards the other partner. The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development is mandated to empower women and promote gender equality in the country. To achieve this, the Ministry has embarked on a number of programmes to support women economically as a strategy for increasing household income and reducing GBV,” said Senator Mutsvangwa.

She said her ministry has availed a number of financial windows for women, among them the Women Development Fund, which provide loans to grassroots women entrepreneurs to upscale their businesses. The fund is loaned to women at very low interest rates and in 2023, the fund caters for the grassroots women, most of whom are in the rural areas.

“Some of the funded projects are doing very well and they are providing employment to community members,” she added.

Senator Mutsvangwa also said the ministry, through the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank, is providing various loan packages to women to enable them to run their enterprises.

“These loans help women to increase their income and ensure that they are able to meet their daily basic needs which include food, clothing and school fees for their children,” she explained.

In addition, the Ministry has the Community Development Fund and the Small to Medium Enterprises Development Cooperative (SMEDCO) which provides loans to Micro, Small and Medium enterprises, a sector which is female dominated.

“The Ministry has made efforts to provide skills training and business management training to women with the objective of enhancing the performance of their businesses. The ministry trained a total of 96 423 women from January to September 2023,” she noted.

Minister Mutsvangwa said there are deliberate programmes that target women who have experienced violence to ensure they have access to economic empowerment opportunities.

“This involves targeting of women survivors of GBV and providing them with skills training and starter packs to enable them to run their businesses. Under the Spotlight Initiative, women survivors of GBV were identified and capacitated, the programme helped a lot of women to enhance their incomes and to go through the challenges of violence.

“For some of the women, the economic empowerment made positive impacts in their relationships with their spouses to a point where some no longer experience the violence,” she said.

The third edition of the Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination is focusing on the importance of placing race at the centre of developing and implementing strategies for socio-economic development.

It runs until 1 December, 2023.

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