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Govt, EU commit to empower women

Mutsvangwa hailed the European Union’s goal for women empowerment and labelled the Epworth Safe Market as a breakthrough in their many efforts which run with government to provide leverage for the girl child and women at large.

A RECENT artistry showcase consisting of melodious mbira music by Mary Anibal, a jovial and energetic dance routine by Kessia Musona, was good enough to motivate and charm the guest of honour, Women Affairs Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Monica Mutsvangwa, at a belated International Women’s Day commemoration last week.

Mutsvangwa hailed the European Union’s goal for women empowerment and labelled the Epworth Safe Market as a breakthrough in their many efforts which run with government to provide leverage for the girl child and women at large.

She said: “As a ministry we work with all government sectors and we are looking forward to implementing all gender empowerment activities throughout the ten provinces of the country and we wish to replicate Safe Markets too.

“The importance of a Safe Market is that it gives a gender-based violence (GBV) survivor a place and opportunity where she can learn livelihood skills while her children go to school. We need to stop GBV through these Safe Markets. This is a one-stop place where women get all the services. We are happy with the money that EU has put in place. The Spotlight Initiative also has a good testimony to share.”

The EU, through the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has invested over €207 million towards gender equality and women empowerment.

Jobst von Kirchmann, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, praised minister Mutsvangwa for her unrelenting support to the EU programmes in Zimbabwe.

“Today is a special day as we come together to celebrate the incredible strength and resilience of women. Vana amai, navasikana give yourselves a round of applause for being here!” he said.

“International Women’s Day is all about recognising the amazing things women do every single day, whether it is running households, starting businesses, or leading communities or leading ministries. It is also a chance for us to think about how far we have come in making sure women have the same opportunities as men and how much more we still need to do.

While touring the market, I noticed how many women work together and support each other. You work together like a team in selling goods on the market place. Referring customers to each other and looking after each other’s stalls. This team work you show, of working better together and speaking with one voice for the same cause to achieve better results.”

Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Per Lindgarde said he was delighted to be part of Team Europe’s initiative on women’s empowerment.

“Women’s empowerment is a priority to European Union and Sweden included. We also have other projects where we are supporting access to sexual and reproductive health services in Zimbabwe,” said Lindgarde.

French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Chevallier said social justice underlines all EU and French diplomatic missions and women empowerment is one of them.

“This project is a perfect example of one of them,” said Chevallier.

In a separate interview, director of the Adult Rape Clinic (ARC) Marceline Mukwamba said her organisation strives to provide a new lease of life to victims of forced sexual activity.

“With regards to rape, this is sexual activity done without concern and it can happen to anyone and it is not peculiar to women alone, even men can actually be sexually abused. It can happen across all ages.

“Once sex is not negotiated properly there is high possibility for STI’s, HIV and unwanted pregnancies. ARC advices that people should report sexual assaults within 72 hours. We encourage people to communicate on the dangers of GBV,” said Mukwamba.

Celebrated mbira performer Anibal who enchanted the audience with music and word and on the back stage said: “I am very happy to perform here at the Safe Market place in Epworth where I would like to share my story on women empowerment through song. I think women should be granted equal opportunities as men so that they diversify from just buying and selling of clothes and farm products to renowned entrepreneurs. Women are encouraged to report any forms of gender-based violence because no one is above the law.”

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