Chris Mahove, EDITOR
The European Union (EU) says it will provide more than USD100 million over the next three years to raise awareness on the rights of women, training in business skills and financial literacy and encourage women to participate in their economic, social and political activities.
Speaking at the occasion to mark the First Anniversary of the Signing of the High Level Political Compact on Ending Gender Based Violence and Harmful Practices in Zimbabwe last week, the EU Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe, Jobst Von Kirchmann said they were working with other EU member states under the banner of the Team Europe Initiative.
“So for the next three years, the EU and EU member states together have initiated an initiative on gender equality which we call Team Europe Initiative where we add funds together for over USD 100 million and the objective is to raise awareness of rights of women, training in business skills, financial literacy or simply access to finance and participation in the decision making process,” he said.
He said the initiative was in line with Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy (NDS-1), noting that the limited ability for women to participate in their economic, social and political activities constituted a drawback to the country’s development aspirations.
Ambassador Kirchmann noted that Zimbabwe was the only country among all Spotlight Initiatives implementing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific to launch such a compact at the highest level.
“Gender based violence actually takes place in all settings every day at home in public spaces and we all need to join hands to eradicate it and only together we can achieve it and Zimbabwe did it. The good news is Zimbabwe did it. The other good news is the EU will continue to support gender equality very massively because that is one of our core values and we will continue to fight GBV because gender equality and women’s empowerment remain our highest priority,” he said.
He congratulated President Mnangagwa for his commitment to the goal of eradicating GBV by 2030, which is part of the vision of the Ministry of Women Affairs as well.
“But let me also extend my congratulations to you Honorable Minister because I think you have shown a permanent commitment and it has gone on to put sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices in the spotlight. And now one year later it’s the first anniversary and the work continues together with the EU and UN agencies; I think you did a fantastic job together with civil society and implementing agencies. I think everybody worked together to make this a reality not only now but in the years to come,” he said.
Ambassador Kirchmann said Gender Based Violence and all forms of harmful practices were some of the biggest obstacles to women participation in decision making and limited their ability to participate and acknowledge their social and political life, adding they constituted a drawback to Zimbabwe’s development.
“And if I may use an illustration; if Zimbabwe were a beautiful bird which wants to fly towards prosperity, because that’s the vision for 2030, and its wings are men and women in Zimbabwe, then this bird will only reach its destination if both wings are equally strong,” he said.
He called upon all stakeholders in the public and private sector and civil society to work together in the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Sthembiso Nyoni said Zimbabwe had made history by becoming the 1st country under the Global Spotlight Initiative Programme to develop a multi-sectoral compact dedicated towards addressing Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices.
She said the HLPC was a commitment to a shared responsibility among all stakeholders in the country and was coordinated from the highest office of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and signed by all stakeholders that included Independent Commissions, Donor Agencies, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations, Traditional Leaders and Religious Leaders.
“Under prevention efforts of the Spotlight Initiative, at least 8 million people were reached with critical information to raise awareness for prevention purposes. The old adages say “knowledge is power and prevention is better than cure” she said.
She said 2 500 women had also benefitted from the empowerment initiatives under the Spotlight Initiative programme, which included business management, financial literacy, skills training as well as provision of starter packs for Income Generating activities.
“The programme also established Gender Responsive Safe Markets for women with one in Epworth which was opened in 2021. Currently frantic efforts are underway to establish more of these markets in Chipinge and Umzingwane,” she said.
Minister Nyoni said government was also spearheading the provision of services through the One Stop Centre and Safe Shelter Model, which had proved to be very effective in providing holistic services including temporary shelter to GBV survivors.
“These One Stop Centres are being established in provincial Government Hospitals and we are grateful that the Spotlight Initiative is supporting the upscaling of this model. Through these initiatives at least 250 000 survivors of Gender Based Violence managed to access comprehensive services,” she said.
Government, she said, was in the process of finalizing a strategy with the aim to increase the participation of women in all decision-making processes and was also in the process of reviewing the National Gender Policy as well as the National Gender Based Violence Strategy, which sought to promote gender equality and to guide implementation of GBV programmes.
“Guided by the Commitment document we shall continue to implement programmes, policies and activities to realize the vision of the Compact; that of ‘A Gender-just society free from all forms of Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices, where women and girls fully contribute towards the attainment of an upper middle-income society by 2030”, she said.