Women empowerment and participation in economic activities is important if the country is to achieve Vision 2030 of transforming the nation into a middle-class economy.
This was said by Minister of Industry and Commerce Mr Mangaliso Ndlovu yesterday at the 6th Women in Enterprise Conference held in Harare.
Officially opening the conference, Minister Ndlovu said Government was prepared to work with women in improving opportunities for them and expanding their businesses as the country moves towards realising Vision 2030.
"I am convinced that women entrepreneurs can drive economic growth in this country and this is being witnessed here today.
"Let me emphasise that the road to achieving the middle-income nation status by 2030 cannot be achieved without including women in the centre of our efforts.
"Your talent, vision, leadership and entrepreneurial spirit should bring about the growth we require to achieve our goals.
"With visionaries and champions like all of you here, we are better positioned to reach greater heights both locally and beyond," he said.
He expressed appreciation to the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Women's Desk for supporting fellow women in business in both urban and rural communities.
Minister Ndlovu said the essence of women's economic empowerment was now recognised the world over and Government's policies had to take cognisance of that.
"Gone are the days when women were taken as minors without rights to even own property, let alone run their own businesses.
"Indeed, gender equality and women's empowerment are integral to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.
"As a universal call to action for all stakeholders, including young women, you can share the benefits of economic growth and development, "he said.
He said this is why Government, through the then Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, established the first Women's Bank in Zimbabwe.
He said the conference resonated well with Government's push to have women in critical positions to drive our economy.
"You have seen the recent appointments, where for the first time there has been an increase in the number of women, some in very strategic ministries.
"Let me, therefore, commend Dr Devine Ndhlukula, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Women's Desk and her team for consistently pushing for women's participation in the mainstream economy.
"The support and recognition given to women in business under the umbrella of the ZNCC Women's Desk has surely strengthened and given confidence to many of our mothers, including the youths.
"This is real women economic empowerment and as you know, if you empower a woman, you empower the nation.
"Most of you might be aware that there is growing global consensus on Women Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Enterprises as a force multiplier for good governance, economic growth, poverty eradication, ending hunger and achieving food security and nutrition, achieving sustainable consumption and production patterns, environmental sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals," he said.
Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Sophia Calltorp said Sweden fully supported the advancement of women in economic development and celebrate their achievements no matter how small.
"Sweden has a long history of supporting women empowerment and we are the first country to pursue feminist policy. The basis of this policy is :without equal participation of half of the population; women, no society, be it in politics, economic development or social life, can develop and flourish and am pleased that this is the new policy of Zimbabwe," she said.
Dr Ndhlukula said the ZNCC Women's Desk was meant to help and support women's enterprises.
"Our flagship woman-owned brand has been moving at a small pace due to the economic environment.
"The woman-owned brand is an initiative that links women-owned enterprises to corporate supply chains as access to sustainable markets is one of the major challenges for women in business," she said.
She expressed concern that Government was the major procurer of goods and services, but women owned-enterprises were not benefiting.