HomeNews‘Govt must not abdicate from funding women projects’

‘Govt must not abdicate from funding women projects’

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AFTER receiving only 1% vote of the 2014 National Budget, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development is working hard to mobilise resources to ensure that it implements projects that it had lined up for the year.

Victoria Mtomba

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The ministry received $5,1 million from an original bid of $30,2 million from the $4,1 billion National Budget, leaving a funding deficit of $25,1 million.

Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister Oppah Muchinguri says the ministry secured alternative streams of income to finance its projects for 2014 after the budget allocation fell short of their target.

The ministry, she said, had realised that Treasury did not have enough money to adequately fund all the ministries and they were not going to be cry-babies, but would consolidate their gains through ensuring that other ministries’ programmes were gender mainstreamed.

“We will not cry foul because of the little money we have received. We have other sources, who are developing partners, who assist us with money to carry out programmes such as agricultural programmes,” Muchinguri said.

She said the ministry would  benefit from some synergies in place between itself and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Muchinguri said her ministry received seed and fertilisers from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which has been channelled towards market gardening.

“Sympathisers help us and the money is not enough. It helps us to address some of the challenges that we have in empowering women. United Nations agencies will give the ministry $5,7 million for various projects this year,” she said.

Muchinguri said the funds would be used for various women’s projects that include gender-based violence, women training and other initiatives that involve women.

She said the ministry needed to acquire machinery for processing mango juice and for use in peanut butter production.

The ministry, she added, also received funding from the women’s development fund, saying that plans were still underway to open a women’s development bank that would help the department in mobilising funds for women’s projects.

A communications specialist for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sammy Mwiti, says the UN worked with the government to support women empowerment, gender equality and equity.

The UN agencies involved in this effort were UN Women, United Nations Development Product, United Nations Fund Populations, International Labour Organisation and United Nations Children Fund.

Through the 2012-2015 Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (Zundaf), the UN agencies supported initiatives ranging from assisting women and girls live a life free from violence, to enhancing women participation in decision making, and promoting economic empowerment.

“During the 2012-2013 period, the UN provided an estimated $9 million in the area of gender equality and women’s empowerment programming support to Zimbabwe,” Mwiti said.

He added the UN appreciated the commitment of the government — represented by Muchinguri’s ministry — in the continued successful partnership and collaboration that was increasingly manifested in improved legislation, programmes and advocacy on gender matters.

According to Zundaf, the UN would work towards ensuring ratification, domestication, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of laws and policies that promoted gender equality, human rights, and women and girls empowerment.

“Efforts will be made to mainstream gender into all Zundaf outcomes using a cross-sectoral approach. An estimated amount of $20 million will be sourced from the UN country team and development partners for this outcome,” the document read.

Although additional sources of funding were welcomed, some women leaders felt that government should not abdicate from its responsibilities in funding women projects.

The Millennium Development Goals show that women participation in all sectors should increase at all levels to 40% for women in civil service positions and 30% for parliament by 2005 and 50:50 balance by 2015.

World conferences on women

The UN has organised four world conferences on women. These took place in Mexico City in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980, Nairobi
in 1985 and Beijing in 1995. The last was followed by a series of five-year reviews.

The 1995 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality.

The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, adopted unanimously by 189 countries, is an agenda for women’s empowerment and considered the key global policy document on gender equality.

It sets strategic objectives and actions for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern:

Women and poverty
Education and training of women
Women and health
Violence against women
Women and armed conflict
Women and the economy
Women in power and decision-making
Institutional mechanism for the advancement of women
Human rights of women
Women and the media
Women and the environment
The girl-child

The Beijing conference built on political agreements reached at the three previous global conferences on women, and consolidated five decades of legal advances aimed at securing the equality of women with men in law and in practice.

More than 17 000 participants attended, including 6 000 government delegates at the negotiations, along with more than
4 000 accredited NGO representatives, a host of international civil servants and around 4 000 media representatives.

A parallel NGO Forum held in Huairou near Beijing also drew some 30 000 participants.

Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empowering Women

5-students-who-won-the-Black-History-Month-Essay-competition-organised-by-the-US-embassy-in-Harare-copy

According to the MDG Status Report 2012, this goal has been partially achieved.

Driven by national and international efforts and the MDG campaign, many more of the world’s children have enrolled in school at the primary level.

Despite some regions lagging slightly behind, the ratio between the enrolment rate of girls and that of boys grew from 91 in 1999 to 97 in 2010 for all developing regions.

Achieving parity in education is an important step toward equal opportunity for men and women in the social, political and economic domains.

However, there is now need for greater effort to increase the participation of women in decision making across all sectors.

In Zimbabwe, gender parity at primary and secondary school levels with respect to enrolment, attendance, and completion rates has been achieved. There is also gender parity in literacy rates.

However, enrolment gender disparities still exist at the tertiary level, although this is being gradually improved and is likely achievable by 2015. Source www.mdgs.co.zw

Zimbabwe Women Resource Network executive director Pamela Mhlanga said the trend of gender-related issues receiving
little funding has been continuing for some time and that will affect the attainment of MDG’s by government.

“It is going to be a challenge for government to meet the MDGs. The signal is that government is unlikely to meet the commitments of the MDGs. I think there is still some way to go for Zimbabwe.

Our expectation is that government should also show its commitment for the mainstreaming of gender across all sectors of the economy,” she said.

Underfunding stalling women empowerment

Thokozani-Khupe

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs and Community Development chairperson Beatrice Biata Nyamupinga says the Women’s Affairs ministry should be funded by government to develop communities and increase the gross domestic product (GDP).

“All that can only happen if our women are empowered and they are producing, wherever they are in the community, is that we will increase the GDP and increase economic growth,” Nyamupinga said.

“In fact, budgetary allocations that do not accord prominence to the ministry responsible for women affairs, gender and community development may run into problems of worsening gender disparities and negate all the strides already made by the Zimbabwe Government in addressing gender related challenges.”

She said 493 women’s groups with a combined membership of 2 151 were funded in 2013 through $778 600 revolving fund.

However, statistics for the first five months were not yet available as some of the projects were yet to be assessed.

MDC-T deputy president and leader of the opposition in the House of Assembly Thokozani Khupe recently moved a motion for the establishment of the women’s bank to ease poverty levels among women in the country.

Khupe said women contributed more than 80% to GDP in Zimbabwe and a women’s bank was necessary to transform the lives of many people because if women had money, their families would also flourish.

“The predicament that is faced by women at the present moment is that financial institutions are not friendly to women and they say women are not credit worthy and when they go to the banks to borrow money they are told they do not have collateral,” she said.

Khupe said a women’s bank would ensure there were special interest rates for women, consider a reasonable grace period and repayment period as well as use financial literacy as collateral.
“We can only reduce poverty and hunger when women have access to capital so that they are able to grow their businesses,” she said.

In the past, Zimbabwean women tried to establish women’s banks such as the Indigenous Business Women Organisation (IBWO) and Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) as well as funds for women in different banks like the CBZ Zimbabwe Women Investment Fund (WIF) but their success stories were yet to be written.

Follow-up to Beijing conference

2000: The General Assembly decided to hold a 23rd special session to conduct a five-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and to consider future actions and initiatives.

“Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development, and Peace for the Twenty-First Century” took place in New York, and
resulted in a political declaration and further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing commitments.

2005: A 10-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action was conducted as part of the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Delegates adopted a declaration emphasising that the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is essential to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.

2010: The 15-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action took place during the Commission’s 54th session in 2010.

Member States adopted a declaration that welcomed the progress made towards achieving gender equality, and pledged to undertake further action to ensure the full and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

2015: In mid-2013, the UN Economic and Social Council requested the Commission on the Status of Women to review and appraise implementation of the Platform for Action in 2015, in
a session known as Beijing+20.

To inform deliberations, the Council also called on UN member states to perform comprehensive national reviews, and encouraged regional commissions to undertake regional reviews.

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