VICE President Joice Mujuru has called on women to be more active and claim their stake in the socio-economic landscape.
Officially opening the Sub-Forum of the 6th World Women University President's Forum in Harare yesterday, VP Mujuru urged women to take advantage of conducive environments being created by their countries to play active roles in socio economic development.
She jointly opened the forum with director at the Communication University of China, Professor Hu Zhifeng.
The two-day forum, that ends today, is aimed at providing a platform for women to discuss and share ideas regarding their empowerment in all sectors of the economy.
Participants drawn from more than 23 countries are attending the forum that is being hosted by the Women's University In Africa.
Said VP Mujuru: "With most of our Governments working hard to put in place conducive environments that ensure women take up leadership roles, the onus is now on us women to take advantage of that to empower ourselves.
"One of the major impediments to our advancement as women has been lack of education and training at high levels. This is gradually changing with increasing numbers of women now holding university degrees up to post-graduate qualifications and this is commendable."
VP Mujuru urged women to shake-off negative attitudes and beliefs that relegate them to the social and economic peripheries.
She said there were few women in decision making and leadership positions at different institutions in many countries.
"Like most women in leadership, I am not immune to the bruises and scars that come with rising to the upper echelons of power.
"Although some of us have made it to the top, the struggle is not yet over. We need to lift others as we climb to create a critical mass of women who move into positions of leadership and decision making. I believe this is a sure way of causing societal transformation," she said.
The forum is being held under the theme: "Sustainable Development through University Partnerships to Empower Women for Leadership Roles".
Attainment of empowerment, VP Mujuru said, would be more effective if universities forge global synergies not isolated efforts.
"Gender bias knows no colour or boundaries and therefore together we can bring the desired change. The issue of gender inequality requires concerted efforts of individuals, institutions and Government among other players," she said.
Women, the VP Mujuru said, should not subject themselves to practices that are shameful and erode their dignity.
"Have a passion for women empowerment and establish a powerful consortium, for instance through the use of venture capital, strategic partenships and move into high-tech and agro-based food and beverage processing business and unleash the strength that is hibernating within you," she said.
Prof Hu said women should occupy active roles in all sectors of the economy to improve their standards of living.
"Women in education should play an important role in enhancing international exchanges and co-operation. We are living in times of change and in this time there should be increased integration between countries.
"Women should emancipate themselves not to wait for their male counterparts to do it for themselves," he said.
Prof Hu commended women for working hard to eradicate poverty, hunger and diseases.
"Women should join educative co-operatives so that they can receive knowledge on different issues of development," he said.
WUA chairperson of the board of trustees Dr Fay Chung said the forum would also enable women university leaders to assess contributions of their institutions towards the attainment of Millennium Development Goals that advocates for the promotion of gender equity and empowerment of women by 2015.