The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) last week launched its strategic plan for the years 2015 – 2018. The document outlines an overview of the organisation’s achievements and challenges over the fifteen years of its existence, followed by an action plan for the next three years.
In her solidarity speech, Director of Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) Pamela Mhlanga said that women had every right to hold government accountable for all the promises made to women through various policy documents.
“Treasury is supposed to deliver five million dollars towards the establishment of the Women’s Development Bank, we are expecting it”, she said.
Mhlanga emphasised the need to have supporting evidence that shows real economic empowerment rather than lip service. She also commended the strategic plan which she said aimed to enhance the capacity of women to fully participate in economic empowerment activities in the country which has been lacking over the years.
ZWRCN leads the women’s economic cluster within WCoZ.
Kelvin Hazangwe Director for Padare/Ekundleni Men’s Forum urged Zimbabweans to think past the notion that gender equality is all about women.
“If we there are ten men and women who are abused in 1 ward, it means that there are ten perpetrators.If we do not include those men in the dialogue against Gender Based Violence who is talking to those men?” he added.
Hazangwe pointed out that it was also up to men to make a personal commitment to fight against gender based violence. During the event, members of WCoZ were also urged to embrace trans-generational leadership within the movement. Grace Chirenje founder and director for Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network For Peace Building (ZYWNP) also highlighted the importance of trans-generational leadership in the women’s movement in order to effectively address issues affecting women.
“We need to make the strategies work for all of us, because as women we are all affected by the same problems just in different ways,” she said.
Chirenje also expressed an appreciation of the diversity in the membership of WCoZ which she said showed that the organisation had done a good job in uniting all activists from different backgrounds.
The outgoing chairperson of WCoZ Virginia Muwanigwa shared the same sentiments as she encouraged the older and younger generations to work together.
“Having the young and old working together as part of the coalition has been one of our successes in the movement because we depend on each other,” said Muwanigwa.
She also reiterated that it was important to ensure that the coalition is not elitist by encouraging diversity in its membership by reaching out to women in various parts of the country. This is also in line with the multi-stakeholder approach that was used in developing the strategic plan.
Real Action is Needed on Economic Empowerment
The strategic plan focuses on four main priorities which include membership strengthening, capacity building, access to information and governance. One important aspect that is echoed in all the four areas is economic empowerment.
Through capacity building, the coalition aims to strengthen the entrepreneurial skills of its members so that women become actively involved in the country’s economic activities to empower themselves. Another way the coalition aims to improve the economic participation of women is through facilitating access to economic information.
Justifying its focus on economic empowerment, the strategic plan states that women have been pushed to the margins of the informal sector which is currently occupied by 84 per cent of the employable population. Graphical illustrations included in the strategic plan also show more women are involved in unpaid labour. The coalition also raises concerns on how political commitments will be translated to material improvements if women only occupy 23 per cent of decision-making positions.
According to the plan, WCoZ is working towards the actual realisation of economy- related outputs as stated in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) policy document. Some of the expected outcomes include access to micro credit by women, occupation of 50 per cent of decision- making positions by women, as well as the funding of women’s projects under the Women Development Fund.
A number of activities are outlined in the strategic plan to achieve goals of economic empowerment, which include: advocacy on women’s economic empowerment, training on income savings and lending, and mobilising women for economic programmes.
WCoZ is a network of women’s rights activists and women’s organisations formed in 1999 which has national structures. Its’ role is to provide a focal point for activism on issues affecting women and girls in Zimbabwe. Members work in diverse fields that include health, legal and constitutional rights, access to education, gender-based violence, economic empowerment, peace building, environment, media and ICTs, politics and decision making. It is made up of chapters in Bulawayo, Masvingo, Harare, Chinhoyi, Kariba, Gweru, Gwanda, Bindura, Marondera and Mutare.
Main image from www.thezimmail.co.zw