The Herald (Harare)

26 June 2006

Zimbabwe: Economic Empowerment Projects Promote Women's Rights -- Dubé

Harare — RURAL economic empowerment projects for women have a far-reaching impact in the promotion of women's rights and in shaping the destiny of their lives, Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Roxanne Dubé said last Thursday.

"I cannot think of any other right for women than the right to earn money and the right to earn a living on their own," she said commissioning a $13,4 billion economic empowerment project for women at Nyamahumba Primary School in the Nyanga North District of Manicaland Province.

A total of 353 women are benefiting directly from diverse income generating projects which include poultry, piggery, orchards, vegetable gardening and herbal tree gardens.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), through its Gender Equality Support Programme, contributed $8,8 billion while Edit Trust, which implements the programmes contributed the balance of $4,6 billion.

Apart from engaging in economic projects, the women also took part in gender training and awareness campaigns to promote gender equality.

In addition to this, three girl child clubs were initiated in the Nyamahumba and the Ruwangwe areas in Nyanga North to create a platform for girls to learn more about their rights and to contribute towards the upbringing of empowered women.

"I think one of the most important ways to help promote equal rights for women is to give them the means to be economically independent. Being able to earn your own money, more than anything, gives you the tools to make your own decisions on a variety of fronts," she said.

Ambassador Dubé also took a chance to tour the Ruwangwe Project with the Minister of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development Cde Oppah Muchinguri who also commissioned a chicken and cassava project at Ruwangwe.

The ministry donated more than 250 chicks to the Ruwangwe women's project, which has also started the greenhouse propagation of cassava.

Cde Muchinguri said her ministry had identified markets for goats in the Middle East and wanted rural community projects to take advantage of this coming opportunity.

"There is a market for goats in the Middle East. We are now working to establish an abattoir for goats," she said. "We have to work together with Arex and other important stakeholders to set up points for goat production in rural areas."

"We want to end the dependency syndrome and empower our communities to enhance their food security as well as fighting the HIV and Aids pandemic."

In a speech read on his behalf, Manicaland Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Cde Tinaye Chigudu said the Government was ready and willing to work with non-governmental organisation whose objectives were clear and skewed towards the less privileged groups and in uplifting the standards of living of the rural people.

"These kinds of projects are commendable because they sustain the lives of our people as opposed to food handouts," he said.

"I have no doubt that the standard of living of our people in this part of Nyanga will certainly improve because women are business-minded, they always want to see things succeed.

"Failure to them is not an option."

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