Zimbabwe: Treasury Prioritises Women Empowerment

23 October 2020

Treasury has committed to prioritise women emancipation as part of efforts to address the social inequalities and strike a gender balance in all spheres of the economy.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, indicated women as well as youths have the demographic advantage and as such, key targets for job creation.

This is expected to enhance their emancipation while creating equal opportunities access to finances, participation in mainstream economic activities as well as access to public services without prejudice.

"Youths and women will be primary empowerment and job creation targets in as much as they are the majority who make an important contribution as productive workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and agents of change," he said at the recent launch of the 2021 Budget Strategy.

He added the 2021 Budget will further support and capacitate empowerment institutions such as the Women and Development Bank, Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank, Community Development Fund, Empowerment Bank and SMEs institutions.

After two decades of economic challenges, caused by among others, low foreign direct investment flows and reduced agriculture production due to bad weather, investment into the productive sectors and infrastructure also dwindled.

The country's debt increased due to arrears and interests in the past two decades forcing Government to channel huge resources towards debt service at the expense of investment in social delivery services further exposing women and youths to dire situations.

A study recently done by ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) titled "Zimbabwe's Debt Distress and its Implications on Gender Responsive Public Services" shows that debt contraction and repayment leave women in precarious situations as revenues generated are channelled towards debt servicing at the expense of social service delivery and infrastructure.

AAZ project officer (women's rights), Farisayi Madhaka said access to finance to start up business also becomes limited and women are pushed into taking care of families, do unpaid work and girls dropping out of school as opposed to growing into entrepreneurs.

"The paper demonstrates that public indebtedness over the past three decades has led to a significant increase in the burden of care and unpaid work for women," said Madhaka at a recently held Zimbabwe Annual Multi-stakeholder Debt conference.

"Using the concept of Gender Responsive Public Service delivery, with a particular reference to provision of safe and clean water as well as sanitation, the study shows that loan acquisition, utilisation of the same and repayments have left women worse off as they still bear the brunt of the negative social effects of public debt in Zimbabwe, " she said.

The predicament of women Zimbabwe is also shown by Women's Institute for Leadership Development who highlighted that women and girls in Bulawayo's Pumula, Magwegwe and Barbourfields suburbs walk long distances in search of water taking away time for education and enterprises. The same is said of those in Harare's Mabvuku, Budiriro and Glenview suburbs as well as across the country.

Minister Mthuli however indicated more efforts will be placed towards enhancing provision of gender responsive public service as well as access to capital by women and youths.

The 2021 Budget Strategy emphasizes the provision of water and sanitation facilities as priorities in 2021 and going forward.

"The deterioration of water and sanitation services is attributed to inadequate investment and infrastructure maintenance, reducing the effective capacity of water sources.

"Therefore the 2021 National Budget will support investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as water harvesting facilities," reads part of the 2021 Budget Strategy.

A report by the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) on the impact of indebtedness on human Rights in Zimbabwe released this month also indicates the provision of gender responsive public services is key in delivering human rights and transforming women's rights.

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