Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Monica Mutsvangwa says the empowerment of women is key to the health and social development of families, communities and countries.

Officiating at the launch of Women’s Month and Every Stage of Woman Campaign yesterday in Harare, Mutsvangwa said there was a need to scale awareness so that women are aware of their rights.

“When women are living safe, fulfilled and productive lives, they can reach their full potential, contributing their skills to the workforce and can raise happier and healthier children,” Mutsvangwa said.

She said there was a need to concentrate on areas that had a multiplier effect like Social Development Goal 5 which focuses on gender equality.

Mutsvangwa said while there are constitutional provisions to support gender equality there was need to rev up awareness programmes.

“It’s not enough to have rights in the Constitution when no one knows about those rights. It’s about raising awareness to potential beneficiaries,” she said, adding that Zimbabwe could utilise the 14 registered community radio stations to promote gender equality in communities.

Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe Per Lindgärde said gender inequality remained a major obstacle to development as women and girls continue to face numerous challenges. “Sexual violence, inadequate reproductive health rights information and services and high rates of child marriages hinder attainment of equality,” Lindgärde said.

He commended the stewardship, strategic and visionary standing of Zimbabwe through the ministries of Women Affairs and Health.

“Sweden appreciates our bilateral partnerships on these issues, and we are calling for more innovative thinking to advance solutions to structural and conjunctural challenges faced by women in Zimbabwe,” Lindgärde said.

Sweden has 24 projects addressing gender equality in Zimbabwe.

He said the launch of the Women’s Month should remind people that empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality was crucial in accelerating sustainable development.

“Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas,” Lindgärde said. — NewsDay

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