Women’s ministry mandated to promote gender equality Minister Mutsvangwa (second from right) poses for a picture with fellow panellists at the Global Forum against Discrimination of Women in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yesterday.

Ivan Zhakata-Herald Correspondent

The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development has come up with a raft of economic measures to empower women, including giving them loans, to help curb gender-based violence (GBV).

Speaking at the Global Forum against Discrimination of Women in Brazil, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Monica Mutsvangwa said one of the major drivers of GBV in families was poverty. 

She said families often had to deal with challenges of lack of income and other basic necessities and this exerted a lot of pressure which in some instances resulted in violence towards the other partner. 

“Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development is mandated to empower women and promote gender equality in the country,” she said. 

“To achieve this, the ministry has embarked on a number of programmes to support women economically as a strategy for increasing household income and reducing GBV. 

“The ministry has availed a number of financial windows for women. The ministry has the Women Development Fund which provides loans to grassroots women entrepreneurs to upscale their businesses. 

“The fund is loaned to women at very low interest rates. The fund caters for the grassroots women and most of them are in the rural areas. Some of the funded projects are doing very well and are providing employment to community members.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said in addition to the Women Development Fund the ministry through the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank was providing various loan packages to women to enable them to run their enterprises. 

She said the loans were helping women to increase their income and ensure that they were able to meet their daily basic needs which include food, clothing and school fees for their children. 

“In addition to the above funding opportunities, the Ministry has the Community Development Fund and the Small to Medium Enterprises Development Cooperative (SMEDCO) which provide loans to Micro, Small and Medium enterprises which are female dominated,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.

“The Ministry has made efforts to provide skills training and business management training to women with the objective of enhancing the performance of their businesses. The ministry trained a total of 96 423 women from January to September 2023. 

“There have been deliberate efforts by the Ministry to ensure that women who go through violence have access to economic empowerment opportunities. 

“This involves targeting of women survivors of GBV and providing them with skills training and starter packs to enable them to run their businesses.”

She said under the Spotlight Initiative women survivors of GBV were identified and capacitated. The programme was helping a lot of women to enhance their incomes and to go through the challenges of violence. 

Minister Mutsvangwa said for some of the women, the economic empowerment made positive impacts in their relationships with their spouses to a point where some no longer experienced the violence.

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