Chipinge women get US$10 000 under UN empowerment programme

From right: One of the beneficiaries Senior Gwama, centre: Ministry of Women Affairs Provincial Development Officer Munyaradzi Rubaya, far left: Gwama’s relative and behind Senior Gwama: representative for Chipinge Central MP: Denny Sigauke

Ellen Mlambo

CHIPINGE – The Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) has handed over business equipment worth US$10036.00 to six individuals and 11 women groups in Chipinge District under the Spotlight Initiative Partnership, a programme designed to end all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and girls by empowering them.

The women who numbered about 111 received the equipment which is in the form of loans at a function held at Gaza Hall in Chipinge on Thursday last week.

Officials who attended the handover included Munyaradzi Rubaya, the Provincial Development Officer in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Clarah Mukosera the ZWMB head of Retail Banking and officials from Government departments.

Beneficiaries under the project paid 20% deposit; the loans are interest free and are paid back in a period of between 12 and 18 months. The Spotlight Initiative is a UN project which is funded by the European Union with ZWMB as the implementing partner.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries that were chosen for the project and there are 23 participating districts in the country with five of them being in Manicaland Province.

Rubaya told Chipinge Times in an interview that the Spotlight Initiative Partnership recognises and takes into cognisance that one of the reasons for abuse of women is because they are poor, dependent and vulnerable.
The partnership is therefore a multisectoral approach to cover all aspects of women development and promote women rights.

He said that the initiative has many programmes and these fall under six groups which are preventive programmes in which communities are conscientised to stop harmful practices which include gender violence. The second group of programmes is to do with offering quality service to survivors. The initiative also deals with legislation and policy issues dealing with the protection of women and girls.

“We also have legislation and policy issues for example we need to revamp laws so as to protect women and girls. We are currently pushing for the Marriage Bill and for mandatory sentence for sexual offenses because we have realised people are given light sentences for sexual offenses yet offenses like stock theft attract nine year custodial sentence.

“We have no particular law which criminalizes child marriages and this is what we are pushing for, but let’s first educate communities to prevent child marriages,” said Rubaya.

Equipment distributed to beneficiaries on Thursday included grinding mills, dehauler, oil pressing machine, maputi guns, peanut butter machines, freezit making machines, sewing machines, a solar Defy deep freezer and a solar panel.

Mukosera said her Bank is working with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development who are on the ground identifying those who are living with sexual gender based violence.

“We are raising awareness among women on gender based violence. We are here to assist them and enable them to be in control over their sexual rights. Empowerment takes them out of situations where they are vulnerable. Women have lost self-esteem because they are disempowered and many remain in marriages for the sake of children,” she said.

The Bank will do training programs focusing on self-confidence, business initiatives, financial literacy, record keeping and all this comes under EU funding of the UNDP.

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