The gender equality women enjoy in Zimbabwe today is well-earned from the shared sacrifices that women made side by side with their men during the liberation struggle, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said on Friday.
She was officially opening the annual conference in Nyanga of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe and delivering the keynote speech.
She said the country’s Constitution, which requires the state to take measures to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all government institutions and agencies, reflects and honours the nation’s recent history as the product of an armed national liberation struggle.
“I took part in the struggle together with many other youthful women and young girls.
We fought an asymmetrical war pitting the population against a well-armed minority.
“To win we had to organise everyone into a people’s war. It spared no-one as we strove for victory. Women had to equally participate side by side with their men to offset the enemy’s technological edge.
“This gender equality should never be construed as an act of charity. That is why the revolutionary constitution of 1980 was founded on the bedrock of gender parity. Since then, as women, we never looked back,” she said.
“Feudal bandage of male patriarchy was done away with. No longer does a woman need her father, brother or husband to be given majority status. She now enjoys full rights without any hindrance of male sanction,” she said.
She pointed out that soon after independence education opportunities were expanded. Rural folk built classrooms for free to be rewarded with teachers from central government. As classes were opened, the girl child was accorded equal access.
“This explains the 96% literacy rating by Unesco in a nation where women outnumber men,” she said.
“From my vantage point of a female combatant of the Chimurenga national liberation struggle, I am really impressed. The Zimbabwe women have more than delivered in the last four decades of freedom and independence.
“The most outstanding is the farming domain for a nation that is still dependent on agriculture,” she said.
She said the majority of the 200 000 leaf tobacco farmers registered with the Tobacco Marketing Board were women, who, unlike their male counterparts, were prone to spending their hard earned money on the welfare of their family. The end result was rising levels of rural prosperity.
“When Air Zimbabwe pioneered Africa’s commercial flights to China our women seized commercial opportunities with Guangzhou,” she said, adding that many of them built their own new homes in growing towns and cities.
Zimbabwean nurses were in demand in the United Kingdom, Dubai and elsewhere. Other countries in the region welcomed Zimbabwean teachers, with women prominent among them.
“Zimbabwe women have boldly ventured into mining especially chrome and gold as our bountiful mineral resources are reclaimed for the majority.
“All these are shining cases of women breaking through the gender glass ceiling of opportunities.
“Even then we have not yet fully attained our pinnacle. Still more needs to done and we will do it,” she said to enthusiastic applause form delegates.
She said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had described the Second Republic as a republic of rights, peace, love harmony, dialogue, inclusive development that leaves no-one behind and where the democratic principles of transparency, accountability, good governance, rule of law and constitutionalism, for which the country’s heroes fought, must be consolidated and entrenched.
She said that since June there had been remarkable price and currency stability, courtesy of statutory instruments that helped restore the authority of the Reserve Bank as the sole monetary authority in the land.
“Two major private players, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and the Ecocash Mobile Platform, were stripped of their self-assumed role of printing money and driving hyperinflation.
“The result is that both the public and the business community now enjoy a new confidence as the national currency is maintaining value. Wages can now maintain purchasing power. Companies can now plan with a measure of certainty,” she said, adding that annual reports were painting a bullish picture of economic activity.
“Petrol queues have disappeared as the fossil fuel sector is opened up to competition. Load‑shedding is giving way to a reliable electricity supply. This is owed to the new Kariba South hydroelectric power station as well as growth in coal mining.
“New thermal power stations are being erected. Soon Zimbabwe will generate 5 000kwh of electricity leading to exports to the region.
“The agricultural sector has rebounded. We have trebled winter wheat production from 45 000 tonnes to 150 000 tonnes, leading to cutting of imports and savings in foreign currency.
The newly introduced climate proofed agriculture Pfumvudza initiative is poised to deliver food security to households. Commercial agriculture is on the rebound. Horticulture exports are back and growing.
“Capital expenditure is rising. Production is up and the job market is beginning to firm up. Indeed you as corporate secretaries attest to this in the annual reports of the last quarter of 2020.
“All in all, there is a new “can do” mood among Zimbabweans. Confidence is back. The Second Republic of President Mnangagwa is delivering on the promise of prosperity.
“This is the new socio-economic mood that is gripping the nation. No more despondency. Your theme is `Transforming Governance and Accounting in the New Normal: A Call to Action. These are sprouting shoots of a new and dynamic economy that Zimbabweans have longed for.
“Our economy is on the verge of a major take-off. We have the bountiful mineral resources. There are fertile and well-watered soils that germinate every type of seed. We have great tourist attractions starting with the spectacular Victoria Falls.
“To top it all is a well-educated, organised and hardworking population. Our state is solid and the political stability is tried and proven.
“We enjoy a perfect geographical location as Africa lowers trade barriers into the Africa Free Trade Area. We are sharpening our investment attraction environment to both domestic and foreign entrepreneurs hence the mantra Zimbabwe is open for business.
“That is why we are improving on the World Bank’s business friendly index. There is ZIDA and also the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange.
“The requisite ingredient is a proper and fair corporate governance climate that ensures that capital and risk are rightly rewarded. This will engender sustained growth,” she said.
“Vision 2030 lies with none but ourselves as Zimbabweans,” she said.
She said the Second Republic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is ushering in a period of sustained double digit GDP growth.
“Watch this space,” she said. “The world will be soon be mesmerised by a new wonder beyond the majestic Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is poised to become a new Singapore-type economy.
“The well-educated, enterprising, hard-working Zimbo woman will be right there to play her fulsome part in the bonanza of economic prosperity,” she said.
“The challenge is to build upon these historical gains. In particular we need to encourage the study of STEM subjects by the girl child. This deepens our pool of productive knowledge while opening equal employment opportunities to women.
“It must be noted that the Happiness Index is highest in those Nordic nation societies that have attained gender parity. So breaking the gender glass ceiling to women is the right and only way to go,” she said.