Briefing Note (1)
Murewa: 23 March 2017:
On the 23rd of March, Rozaria Memorial Trust (RMT) and Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Women Affairs and Community Development hosted a stakeholder inception meeting for the project on women’s access to and control over productive resource including land. This is a seven month projects to be undertaken in 15 wards of Murewa District.
The important initiative compliments the existing programmes and activities by various stakeholders in the district that is addressing women’s economic empowerment especially in agriculture and agri-business. Mrs Milka Manhanzva, District Development Officer of Ministry of Gender, Women Affairs and Community Development chaired.
Present at the event was the District Administrator (name), Murewa Rural District Council Officials, Changamire Mushaninga representing Chief Mangwende, government officials from critical line Ministries such as Lands….and civil society organisations like ZICHIRE and Heather Chimoga Trust.
Women’s participation in decisions that affects their lives is an important principle held by all the partners, and therefore women were present self-representing, as well as women holding various positions in various institutions. Mr Patrick Mugaragumbo, RMT Chair of the Board welcomed the stakeholders to the inception meeting and appreciated the partnership with UN Women. “The issue of land is personal because women in Murewa, just like my mother, my sisters and I contributed to freedom for this country. We were fighting for land. It’s good that our Zimbabwe constitution is now clear on this position, that women just like men have a right to productive assets including land. Now is the moment, to make this a reality for hundreds of women in our district.”, stressed Mrs Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Chief Executive for Rozaria Memorial Trust.
It was evident that patriarchal attitudes continue to place women as second class citizens, whose rights are defined by age, marital status and social standing in society. Traditional leaders emphasised that such attitudes must change in the family first, with fathers also giving land to their daughters including the “returned soldier”, a term used to refer to single and divorced women living with their parents. While the constitution and laws of Zimbabwe have progressed to advance the rights of all women, more work as to be done to change social norms. The stakeholders identified the broad challenges that impact on women’s participation and access to productive assets and resources, mapped out other complimentary programmes and initiatives in the district and defined some strategic actions the future.
The participants identified collectively the 15 wards to be prioritised for in-depth work, which included all the three land tenure systems, i.e communal, leasehold (resettlements) and commercial. “As we move forward, we will build on the positive work on gender responsive budgeting that we had carried out before in the district. It’s encouraging that stakeholders are all committed and not questioning the importance of gender equality and equity. The issue is more about how we reach there”, was a reflection from Ms Doreen Makamure, of the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN). Moving forward, the ownership of the project by the district and diverse stakeholders is evident and clear. Its critical to respect the trust and deliver the programme as agreed respecting the time lines and the partnership principles adopted. “This is our project as a district, we have worked with Rozaria Memorial Trust for ten years in this district and we know you are part of us. It is encouraging that UN Women has committed to this work, and we hope more partners will come forward so that we can go to scale and impact more women, more families and raise the standards of life in Murewa.”, were the affirming words of the District Administrator. Economic empowerment of women in the agricultural sector is the bedrock for addressing household poverty, mitigating violence against women and redressing other social issues such as reducing unemployment as well as child early and forced marriage. It was clear that this project must integrate issues of age.
The meeting concluded with a recognition and appreciation of all stakeholders and participants to the meeting, and a mapping out of the next steps and way forward.
Ministry of Gender, Women Affairs and Community Development’s mission is to spearhead women empowerment, gender equality and equity for community development.
The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) is a non- governmental organization committed to promoting women’s social and economic justice in Zimbabwe and globally, through the power of information, networking and strategic advocacy.
Rozaria Memorial Trust is Zimbabwe registered non-profit organisation that advances rights and promotes access to education, health and entrepreneurship for women and young people, especially girls in resource poor communities.