The Zimbabwe Gender Commission is one of the five Independent Commission established in terms of Sections 232(c) and 245 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and operationalized through the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act (Chapter 10:31), with the overall mandate of promoting, protecting, and advancing gender equality as provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

On this yet another memorable occasion where the world celebrates rural women globally, we, as the Zimbabwe Gender Commission appreciate the critical role played by rural women in global economies. We recognize the huge role those rural women play in producing food and building agricultural and rural development. Today, ZGC joins the world in commemorating the 2021 edition of the International Day for Rural Women running under the international theme, “Rural women cultivating good food for all.

All over the world, women are responsible for food security and nutrition in most homes. Rural development cannot without the active participation of women is unimaginable. Rural women account for a great proportion of the agricultural labour force and produce most of the food grown especially in subsistence farming. Agricultural growth in rural areas is two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than any other sectors and women are playing a significant role. They produce a huge amount of food for their families and the surrounding communities.
Gender based inequalities, structural barriers and discriminatory social norms along the food production value chain hinder the attainment of food and nutritional security at national and household level. Although 86% of women in Zimbabwe depend on land for livelihood and food production for their families, they still encounter a number of challenges in food production and security, and these include:

  • Lack of access to land – land is owned by men and transferred intergenerationally to males.
  • Lack financial resources – women have less access to and control of financial resources. Where they need to apply for loans/ credit, they lack the required collateral, and this limits their purchasing power of agricultural tools and inputs.
  • Lack of access to markets – women lack access to markets to sell their produce. In addition, they lack marketing skills and information on current market trends and pricing of their produce.
  • Lack education and training – low literacy level prevents most women from writing or preparing a business plan which is also a requirement of the bank hence they fail to do proper planning. Knowledge can help women farmers to significantly enhance their productivity and income.
  • Lack of gender disaggregated data on land ownership, cash and food production which is critical for interventions and strategies to improve the participation and contribution of women in the agriculture sector.

Women are critical agents of change in the fight against rural poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Gender equality is essential for attaining food security, nutrition and achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals of “leaving no one behind”. This requires closing the gender gap in food and agriculture. We therefore call the Government and relevant stakeholders to:

  • Ensure equal access to productive resources and services by rural women
  • Promote the adoption of appropriate inputs and technology to free up women’s time for income-producing activities
  • Strengthen the technical and entrepreneurial skills of women to improve their engagement in value chains
  • Promote climate-resilient agriculture strategies for securing rural women’s rights, empowerment, and well-being
  • Put in place a multi-sectoral approach to development and empowerment programmes as to improve the lives of rural women and girls.
  • Review the national COVID-19 response mechanisms informed by experiences and lessons learnt is addressing rural women and girls’ concerns.

ZGC appeals to all Zimbabweans living in rural areas to follow all health and other guidelines to fight against COVID-19. #Staysafe

For more information, contact ZGC Chairperson, Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe 0712214203/ 0772869214, and Chief Executive Officer Virginia Muwanigwa 0712899543/ 0772327955

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