Govt courts partners in gender equality push

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Monica Mutsvangwa

GOVERNMENT needs partners to fight  for women’s empowerment as it cannot work alone in fighting gender inequality, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.

She was speaking during the launch of two gender assessment reports by the World Bank in Harare this week.

According to the World Bank, the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe has remained high at 363 per 100 000 live births, falling short of the Sustainable Development Goal target of 70 deaths by 2030.

The World Bank report said most of these deaths were due to teenage pregnancies, adding that HIV impacts, unsafe abortions and inadequate maternal care contributed to this concerning trend.

Mutsvangwa, however, said the government was committed to working with other stakeholders to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.

“The gender and women’s rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the integration of gender as a core element for consideration across all sectors as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (2021–25) attest to this commitment,” she said.

“My ministry has also been mandated to lead and co-ordinate work on gender equality and women empowerment issues, however, my ministry cannot single-handedly keep the national spotlight on gender equality and women’s rights nor can it reduce the gender inequality gap alone.”

Mutsvangwa admitted that the government still had gaps that needed to be filled in fighting against gender-based violence (GBV).

“While we take pride in some of our success stories the assessments provided insights into areas we are lagging and proffered strategic recommendations to overcome the challenges.

“The need to bolster institutional capacities, increase gender equality financing thus including devising innovative ways of ensuring the allocation of dedicated domestic funding to combat GBV, upscaling GBV prevention and response and accelerating the implementation of the High-Level Political Compact on Ending Gender-based Violence and Harmful Practices were underscored.

“Ordinarily, for gender and GBV-related data, we rely on the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys that are carried out at five-year intervals,” she said.

In the report, the World Bank said women in the age range 15 to 49 were disproportionately affected by HIV, with a prevalence rate of 13,7% — nearly double that of men in the same age bracket.

“This disparity is linked to gender power imbalances, limited healthcare access and lack of resources for prevention, underscoring the urgent need to address underlying social determinants driving higher rates of illness among women,” the report said.

It further indicated that 44% of women over 15 years old have experienced sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner, surpassing the global average of 27% and the regional average of 33%.

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