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There is growing global consensus on Women Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Enterprises as a force multiplier for good governance, economic growth, poverty eradication, ending hunger, achieving food security and nutrition, achieving sustainable consumption and production patterns, environmental sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals.
As the nation continues to celebrate the coming in of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), which succeeded the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, it is prudent to understand all the gender dynamics at play in the vision, and to locate women’s space in it.
It is envisaged that the pursuit of this vision will deliver broad-based transformation, new wealth creation and expand horizons of economic opportunities for all Zimbabweans, with “no one left behind”.
The NDS1 is the country’s first five-year medium term plan aimed at realising the country’s Vision 2030, of having a “Prosperous & Empowered Upper Middle Income Society by 2030”.
Through NDS1, Government aims to enhance inclusive growth by enhancing the participation of those sections that were traditionally excluded from mainstream economic activities, and that includes women and youths.
Government also seeks to promote gender equality and the participation of women in development processes.
Gender equality carries numerous economic and social benefits that help people of both genders in Zimbabwe, especially women. Fifty-two percent of the Zimbabwean population consists of women and girls, many of whom are limited in their ability to access education, influence policy, and own land. As a result, women are a largely untapped source of economic potential.
With gender equality, Zimbabwe would see a greater influx of educated workers, policymakers, and landowners who can contribute to the national economy.
Women empowerment and participation in economic activities is important if the country is to achieve Vision 2030 of transforming the nation into a middle-income economy.
The NDS1 provides for affirmative action which is one of the values of social justice, with reference to the empowerment of women and youths.
The blueprint also targets the financial inclusion of the previously unbanked citizens with the aim of plucking them out of abject poverty thereby promoting inclusive growth for all Zimbabweans.
Gender mainstreaming is considered as one of the cross cutting issues in recognition of its importance for development. The NDS1 highlights that gender mainstreaming is important in reducing tensions that may arise from imbalances in society.
The successful rollout of NDS1 2021-2025 is expected to position the country on a favourable footing to tap into the lucrative opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which also presents lucrative opportunities for women in business.
Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 cannot be achieved without gender equality, without equal participation of both men and women at every level in the mainstream economy. Development of an upper middle income economy envisioned in Vision 2030, can only be realised through full gender balance in the development process of our great country, hence the need to understand issues and locate women’s space.
Government has shown commitment to achieving gender equality and women empowerment by ratifying a number of gender related international and regional protocols, which include the United Nations Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), the African Union Charter on the Rights of Women and the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development (SADCPGD).
The Constitution, under Section 17, also mandates full gender balance in all aspects of the Zimbabwean society.
Our Constitution also makes it clear that women shall constitute at least half the membership of all agencies of Government, that is to say, Constitutional Commissions, public entities, state owned enterprises and parastatals, universities and colleges, local authorities, and so on, established under the Constitution or any Act of Parliament.
This indeed shows a commitment to improving the status of women in the country and efforts must be made to ensure that what is enshrined in the Constitution translates to actual action on the ground.
This is also in line with Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and is a pointer that indeed the country is on the right path to ensuring that women are respected and included in all national processes.
A 2016 report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), “Understanding Gender Equality in Zimbabwe: Women and Men Report 2016”, shows that while the country has made significant strides in addressing gender imbalances, more is yet to be done to ensure that Zimbabwe attains full gender equality in all spheres of life as enshrined in the Constitution.
In the country, the private sector is yet to make significant strides in elevating women into top leadership positions.
A 2015 study, published in the Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences titled “Measuring Gender Differences on Board of Directors of Companies Listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)” conducted by T.Njaya and Z. Chimbadzwa (Zimbabwe Open University), provides interesting statistics on gender diversity on boards of 64 then ZSE listed companies.
According to the study, out of 406 directors from a total of 64 companies, only 40 which constitutes 10 percent were female and 366 , which translates to 90 percent were male. This shows that there is still a long way to go, however with blue prints such as the NDS1, there is hope.
The NDS1 recognises women and gender mainstreaming as a critical element for attainment of Vision 2030.
Women still face hurdles in respect of opportunities to ascend to commanding heights in the national economy, including, as detailed in Section 741 of the NDS1, limited access to finance, limited access to land and freehold property, limited opportunity to influence policy, as well as legal, cultural and patriarchal barriers.
The development strategy recognises that in order to attain inclusive development, as envisioned under Vision 2030, there is a need to address gender imbalances within the mainstream economy.
Some of the interventions that will be implemented under Section 744 and 747 of the NDS1 in gender mainstreaming include, but are not limited to the operationalisation of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to spearhead the gender agenda, the enactment and popularisation of the Domestic Violence Act, to combat Gender Based Violence (GBV), prioritisation of resource allocation and disbursement to women empowerment programmes as well as Capitalisation of Women’s Microfinance Bank which is meant to allow women access to capital.
It is expected that if these gender programmes are successfully implemented under both NDS1 and NDS2, by 2030, there will be increased participation of women in all sectors of the economy, more women in decision making positions, growth in women incomes, and equal opportunities between men and women.
The road to achieving the middle-income nation status by 2030 cannot be achieved without including women at the centre of all efforts. The talent, vision, leadership and entrepreneurial spirit that women possess should bring about the growth we require to achieve our [email protected]_tshuma
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