GOVERNMENT has initiated the advancement of rural women and their integration into mainstream national development processes as equal participants and beneficiaries, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni has said.
She was speaking during commemorations of the International Rural Women's Day that were held in Harare yesterday.
This year's commemorations centred on promoting the cultivation of small grains.
"Due to the adverse effects of climate change the mainstay of our economy, agriculture, has suffered the most. Coincidentally rural women dominate this sector hence the need to focus our attention on empowering them to sustain the national economy," she said.
"I therefore call on all stakeholders in the small grains industry to join hands with Government in supporting this lucrative endeavour, which does not only contribute to food security, but also enhances the national nutrition status level."
Minister Nyoni called on all women, particularly rural women, to stand up and take their rightful places in all sectors of the society.
"Rural women lack access to basic services such as education, good quality housing, clean drinking water and sanitation. Hence in his State of the Nation Address, His Excellency President Mnangagwa committed the Government to raising the status of women particularly in rural areas by scaling up targeted agriculture financing for maize and small grains, wheat, tobacco, cotton, livestock, fisheries production and wildlife conservation under the Command Agricultural Programmes."
She added that the Government has put in place various mechanisms to support women.
"The Women's Development Fund and the Zimbabwe Community Development Fund avail dedicated support to women's programmes and can be accessed through the submission of project proposals to our provincial offices.
"Our officers who are based at grassroots level in all the wards are mandated to support women's empowerment programmes and should always avail themselves to provide requisite services.
"The Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank was established to assist women with affordable working capital," she said.