The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: President Launches Women's Empowerment Framework

President Mugabe yesterday officially launched Government's Broad Based Women's Economic Empowerment Framework which seeks to provide a guiding outline for economic empowerment.

He, however, urged women to develop the necessary skills that would ensure success in their business activities.

President Mugabe also hailed women's contribution to Zimbabwe's growth and sustenance during the sanctions-induced economic downturn.

He also took a swipe at the banking sector for charging exorbitant interests rates that are detrimental to the development of businesses in Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe expressed doubt that Britain, US and their Western allies would remove the illegal economic sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe.

The Broad Based Women's Economic Empowerment Framework has inspired Government's efforts to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.

It also has a broad-based agenda of ensuring sustainable growth in Zimbabwe.

The framework's strategic interventions include enhancing women business ownership or entrepreneurship and facilitating women's participation in key economic decision-making positions.

It also aims at ensuring employment equity and assisting women from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate and benefit from viable informal and formal livelihood activities.

In his address, President Mugabe said while Government would seek ways of ensuring the success of the framework, there was need to mobilise resources to capacitate women at an early age.

"While we have come with our concerns, we have left out, in our demands, the need for resources to capacitate the girls so that when we want skills we will have built up the necessary base.

"It is necessary to build a much more focused skill that has seen you go through a system that enables you to acquire them through an education, apprenticeship, attachment or any other form of education.

"Let us educate our children so that the girl can be the operator in the required field such as a metallurgist or geologist."

He said women should prepare for the future so that the educated girl child can execute the duties properly.

"If you are miners, do you want to mine without experts? You should have experts to guide your activities not to look for associates or others to do the mining for you.

"Kana kuine vasikana vakadzidzira basa iroro vanofanira kubatsira kuratidza gwara ipapo. Shungu chete hadzitiendese kure."

He hailed women for taking up mining while urging them to participate more in other sectors of the economy.

"There should, however, be employment equity for women. They must have equal chances with men; have the right to acquire shares in companies.

"There should also be equal opportunities for the disadvantaged, including rural women who are more disadvantaged than their counterparts."

The President said Zimbabweans had lost confidence in the banking sector due to a number of issues.

"Representatives from the banking sector have told us that people keep funds for not more than 40 days but I feel its justified.

"Mamwe mabhanga haana kubata mari yevanhu zvakanaka. Vakatamba njuga nemari dzevanhu.

"When people deposit their money in banks they believe the same money would be invested or lent to other businesses so that it gains interest.

"At the moment its like a disease yekuda kupfuma zvakanyanya. These exhorbitant interests inhibit individuals in their efforts to improve their businesses."

President Mugabe said while the framework was noble it faced challenges.

"The programme is good but it could be affected by the sanctions. I do not see the sanctions going soon despite newspapers indicating otherwise," he said.

President Mugabe said the framework comes at the right time when Government has launched the National Development Strategy - the Medium Term Plan (2012-2015).

He said the successful implementation of the MTP is dependent on the nature of support it gives to women's empowerment.

"It being an accepted demographic fact that women comprise 52 percent of our country's population, we cannot therefore afford to ignore women or deny them the right to meaningful participation in the mainstream economy of our country.

"The Government's policy is clearly one of commitment to gender equality and hence of empowerment of women towards the achievement of MDG 3 and other goals."

President Mugabe said it was essential to ensure the sustainability and success of the promotion framework in Zimbabwe.

The launch was attended by Vice President Joice Mujuru, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, Cabinet ministers, women's empowerment groups and representatives from the various business sectors.

Ministers also fielded questions raised by stakeholders from across the country.

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