Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Government is finalising the process of operationalising the Women’s Bank following a $10 million capital injection by Treasury, Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya has said. Addressing journalists and members of the civil society in Harare recently, ahead of the commencement of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, Minister Chikwinya said her ministry was now awaiting the operating licence, expected in a fortnight.

“We will be issued with the licence for the bank in the next two weeks and the President has set aside $10 million as start-up capital for the bank. “We are now waiting for the paperwork so that investors can come on board,” said Minister Chikwinya.

This development comes as the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Activists are advocating for financial empowerment for women to be independent and fight gender-based violence.

Minister Chikwinya said emphasis was on women because 99 percent of perpetrators of gender-based violence were men and boys. “Men and boys must enter into a transformative mode where they change and shift their attitudes towards women and girls.

“Men must be champions of gender equality and act to the letter and spirit of our Constitution that obliges us to be equal partners in development,” said Minister Chikwinya. She said in line with this year’s theme, “Peace in the home to peace in the world”, let us unite to end gender-based violence, Government was geared towards ending all forms of gender-based violence.

These include domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual violence and rape, violence in public spaces and child marriages. Minister Chikwinya said in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Office, her ministry was working on a mandatory sentence for rape and sexual abuse as well as criminalisation of child mar- riages.

This also comes amid revelations that 4 500 girl pupils dropped out of school in 2015 alone due to child marriages. Minister Chikwinya said the commencement of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence would pave way for 365 days of activism.

“My fellow Zimbabweans, I am counting on you to be part of the bandwagon set to free everyone from all forms of GBV. United we stand, divided we fall,” she said. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence provide a platform to champion against all forms of GBV and increase awareness in communities.

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