Blessings Chidakwa-Municipal Reporter
A safe women’s vending market and a one-stop centre catering for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) victims has been opened in Epworth, with women hailing the Government and its partners for helping eradicate violence against them.
Dozens of women will be allocated vending stalls at Overspill in Epworth, a low-income settlement housing thousands of people on the southern outskirts of Harare.
A beneficiary, Mrs Rachel Hatidikanwi said this was a welcome development especially during this rainy season as the market had proper sheds.
“Since 1998 when I started vegetable vending in Epworth, we have never benefited from such a facility. We are more than grateful for the initiative. We can now sell our products comfortably, without fear of being harassed by drunkards,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Plaxedes Kofi said the market was now affording them a secure place to store their products.
“Our children were always having the hassle of ferrying products to and from home, but now we can leave them here securely,” she said.
Mrs Memory Mapuranga expressed joy saying she used to sell her products at insecure places.
“Sometimes we used to sell on the roadside risking our lives from motorists. We were also harassed by some drug dealers.
“Pickpockets were also a menace. I am more than grateful for the initiative,” she said.
Officiating the opening of the market, Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga said economic empowerment of women was integral to any sustainable approach to eradicate violence against women.
“Studies show that women who control their own resources are less vulnerable to being victimised because of their gender,” she said.
The opening of the Safe Market Space and the One Stop Centre coincided with the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence whose local theme this year is: “End Violence Against Women Now: No to child marriages”.
Acting UN resident coordinator, Dr Alex Gasasira said the safe market initiative was a component of the safer cities initiative, a UN woman global programme supporting local authorities to develop and implement safety strategies.
“The safe market demonstrated here, is an important step towards facilitating women’s economic empowerment, leadership and separate female and male ablution facilities and clean water facilities will serve as a model in our collective efforts to prevent GBV,” he said.
Head of European Union (EU) Development Cooperation Mr Frank Porte said the EU fully supported Zimbabwe’s theme this year.
The market and the GBV one stop shop was created following the intervention of the Government, the EU, the United Nations and the Epworth Local Board.