Press Release March 2015

ZWRCN statement on International Women’s Day 2015: focus on financing the gender and development agenda

The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) joins the world in commemorating International Women’s Day under the global theme “Making it Happen.” We call upon the Government to “make it happen” for Zimbabwean women in the economic, political and social sectors through the full implementation of various laws and policies already in place. We believe there is a window of opportunity for Zimbabwe to lead by example to accelerate this agenda on the continent through the Chairmanship of the SADC and the African Union of His Excellency President Robert Mugabe.

We are pleased with the national theme “Beijing +20: The journey towards women empowerment in Zimbabwe: Successes and Challenges” This is an appropriate theme that allows the country to reflect on how far we have travelled on the journey towards women’s empowerment, and more importantly, how far we still have to go.

Whilst ZWRCN commends the Government for having a strong legal and policy environment for promoting women’s rights, in practice the country’s momentum toward achieving gender equality is still being slowed by lack of adequate financing. For example, a critical national strategy to eradicate gender based violence (2010 – 2015) is under resourced, and the soon to be established Zimbabwe Gender Commission has been allocated only $100 000 in the 2015 budget. The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development has been allocated less than 1% of the national budget for the past 5 years, and, more resources are required to significantly reduce the very high maternal mortality which stands at 614 deaths per 100 000 live births (MICS, 2014), in order to meet national and the Millennium Development Goals.

ZWRCN reminds Government of its commitment towards women’s economic empowerment as articulated in the National Gender Policy (2013). We congratulate government for allocating $5 million in the 2015 national budget for the establishment of the Women’s Bank. We are calling for speedy release of these resources from Treasury so that women struggling to have access to finance can benefit from this bank. We believe that this noble initiative will allow women to contribute more fully as economic actors in agriculture, mining, tourism and other sectors.

ZWRCN wishes all the women a happy International Women’s Day.