By Shingirai Vambe
The ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium enterprises Development has successfully hosted the first Women Empowerment Summit Expo in Harare.
The 2 day summit and expo which was held at the Harare International Conference Centre saw women from other countries and the country’s 10 provinces coming together to sell and exhibit their products as well as engaging with various ministries and stakeholders.
The engagement meeting was done through a policy dialogue on issues that impede women’s participation in all the economic spheres.
Guest speaker at the summit, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in a speech read on his behalf by the minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Oppah Muchinguri, Kashiri said he acknowledged the critical role that women play in development of Zimbabwe.
“My Government has unwavering commitment towards promoting gender equality and women empowerment.
Our country is a signatory to International and Regional instruments for gender equality and women empowerment.
These include the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality and the SADC Protocol on Gender Development.”
The dialogue gave women the platform to share their challenges and map the way forward on redressing them.
The relevant ministries promised to look into the issues raised during the summit and profer solutions.
Most rural women, who attended the event, asked the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), represented by the Director Economics, Tariffs and Competition, Hilda Mutseekwa for improved service delivery revealing that they were not getting the best and quality service from mobile operators.
Delegates lamented poor network adding that they were not getting value for money since the mobile network operators failed to provide constant network connectivity and in most cases, data bundles and airtime expire before use.
Mutseekwa told the Post On Sunday Newspaper that for the past months, due to electricity challenges, services by operators was compromised.
She said they were failing to meet the demand because of resource constrains.
“The challenge is electricity. We are operating in a very tough environment, yes operators can have alternative sources of power, but the tariffs will not allow them, they are not good enough for them to use alternatives sources of power.
We are in a fix as a country and for us as the regulator, if electricity improves, network will also improve. We cannot be enforcing quality of service standards when the situation is as it is,” added Mutseekwa.
She further stated that as the regulator, they are in a dilemma of trying to address issues of service affordability when people’s disposable income is dwindling. She said their efforts of making service more affordable was eroded by the fact that the standard of living had gone down due to poor remuneration which need the fiscal authorities to address.
“Our tariffs are within range or even lower comparing with other countries. This summit has opened our eyes and we are going to engage the operators to address some of the issues raised during the two day Expo.
We applaude POTRAZ for initiating and conducting awareness campaigns aimed at bridging the information gap in the ICT sector,”Mutseekwa said.
The summit comes on the backdrop of another engagement meeting held in Chipinge which brought together representatives from POTRAZ, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, and Consumer Protection Commission.
The engagement workshop discussed among a host of other issues consumer rights and protection and cyber security.
The United Nations Development Program Resident Representative, Ms Madelena Monoja said she was honored to attend and given an opportunity to speak during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.
“Ladies and Gentlemen albeit the recognition that empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth, we still note with concern that gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society.
Women lack access to decent work, often denied access to basic education and health care, and face occupational segregation and barriers to accessing economic empowerment opportunities,” said Monoja.
She added that the FinScope MSME survey Zimbabwe 2022 recognizes the MSME sector as a significant contributor to economic growth, development and mass employment.
It noted that Zimbabwe has a growing micro small and medium enterprise, in the sectors of agriculture, mining, trade, tourism, green economies, climate change mitigation and technological advancements which provide unprecedented opportunities for women empowerment.
Reports confirm that the majority of Zimbabwean women do not have access to funding which is meant for them owing to a myriad of challenges.
The summit ran under the theme, “Revitalizing Economic Growth Through Women Empowerment”.