The Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre Network ( ZWRCN) together with Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe(WCoz) have released a report on the outcomes of the Women’s Budget Indaba held on the 21st of October at Harare Gardens in Harare.
Women from different parts of Zimbabwe came together to collectively contribute towards a document that was to be handed over to the finance ministry with suggestions for consideration into the formulation of the 2016 national budget. The contributions were subdivided according to the sector each group of women represented. Agriculture, mining, tourism, education and health are some of the economic sectors that were represented. Social sectors were also represented and these include, women living with disabilities and women working against gender based violence.
Women in the Agriculture sector lamented lack of farming inputs and suggested that 10% of the total budget be allocated to the sector ensuring that women have equal access as men to the funds. One of the main suggestions on how the money would have to be used was the drilling of boreholes and installation of irrigation equipment. The farmers acknowledged that farming on large pieces of land is not always productive and suggested that government provides them with subsidies to farm on a maximum of two hectares of land to ensure efficient use of inputs. To add value to their produce the women also requested for agro-processing plants that will allow them to process food products from their produce thus increasing the value of their end-products.
Similar to agriculture, women in mining are also having a challenge accessing financial and mechanical resources. Women in mining asked for a renegotiation of the time they are given to pay up for the registration of claims before they are forfeited. They asked for an extension of up to five years. In the same regard they proposed that government provided them with loans for working capital so that they meet their operational costs. Just as farmers have agricultural extension officers to assist them with knowledge, women miners highlighted that they needed similar personnel to guide them through their operations to ensure that they are following the right procedures. To increase the potential of more women venturing into mining, another suggestion was that government needs to reduce the size of mining areas reserved for big companies. This was to increase the chances of women also having access to land with potentially good deposits. Overally, women in mining seem to have more requests on financial assistance similar to their counterparts in agriculture.
For women in tourism, keeping up with the international standards is important thus they proposed that government facilitates further training on tourism and business management. They placed emphasis on, quality control and branding, customer services and financial management. In addition to advanced training, women in the tourism sector pointed out the need to be exposed to more opportunities. Since women have been lagging behind in this sector, they suggested that government provides opportunity platforms for them to grow their businesses. To add on to this, the women requested for the creation of tourism development zones.
Registration rules and regulation laws governing the tourist sector were also pointed out as a hindrance for some women to start operating. There was a suggestion that government should relax them. The relaxation of the laws would potentially increase the number of women operating in the industry.
As the country is largely depending on informal trading, women in that sector also had contributions towards the 2016 national budget. Currently informal traders are at loggerheads with local authorities over operating space and the cost rentals. There was a special request for government to revisit the by-laws that stipulate how vendors should operate. With the establishment of the Women’s Development Bank expected soon, informal traders requested that this particular bank should have flexible laws that will allow them to access loans and other financial services that will be on offer. Another factor that is probably affecting every trader in the country is the exchange rate issue especially between the South African Rand and the United States Dollar. For the informal vendors it is difficult to hold transactions while members of the public are rejecting one of the main and readily available currencies thus the women suggested that the Finance Minister looks into the matter when he prepares the national budget for next year.
Contrary to reports that informal traders evade taxes, the women requested for awareness campaigns from Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) that teach them on the principles of payment of tax by business people. They admitted that most of them are not aware of the procedures that one needs to follow, in order to pay the relevant taxes.It was highlighted that these awareness campaigns could bring potential boost to the country’s economy as a whole.
Women in social sectors also had contributions towards the improvement of lives through efficient social services. Lack of infrastructure for women and children with disabilities is a recurring problem in schools, workplaces and other forms of public infrastructure. To curb this problem the suggestion was for government to ensure that there are facilities that cater for people with any kind of facility in the transport, health, business and education sectors. Another contribution was towards the areas of research where it was put forward that there should be provision of gender dis-aggregated data that would inform the decisions to be made concerning women living with disabilities. The availability of such data is expected to assist government in the inclusion of women with disabilities in land allocation and provision of loans to start businesses.
Under social protection services, women suggested the provision of decent housing with the relaxation of requirements needed for one to be a beneficiary of such programmes. Although government has made strides in the provision of education, the women asked government to speed up the process of building schools with adequate facilities in rural areas. Provision of sanitary products was also one of the contributions made as there have been reports that lack of these products is still hindering many girls from attending lessons in schools.
Full salaries for teachers on maternity leave, transparency in the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), and provision for proper housing for teachers in rural schools were also included among the contributions made during the Indaba.
Over 1000 women took part in the process that was organised to increase the contributions made by women towards the formulation of the national budget. The women were hopeful that the ministry of finance would take note of their contributions and include them in the formulation of the 2016 national budget.
Main image taken from www.source.co.zw