DYANZ urges women with disabilities to participate in economic empowerment initiatives

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Writes Marlvin Ngiza 
The Disability Youth Advocacy Network in Zimbabwe, an organisation that advocates for economic empowerment for young people with disabilities, has challenged young women within the disability constituency to prioritise networking with others for them to grow, be empowered, get knowledge about personal development and explore opportunities that are available to them.
The encouragement comes as the globe commemorates International Women’s Month until the end of March under the theme “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.”
In her message to women with disabilities, DYANZ board member, Melissa Mandihlare, said participation in economic empowerment programmes has been critical for young women as it affords them opportunities to penetrate the entrepreneurship world, become self-reliant, and earn better standards of life.
“I want to encourage women with disabilities to network with others as it helps them to learn new skills and acquire useful knowledge about their development. Also, I want to say as women with disabilities, let us be active and involved in economic empowerment programmes so that we acquire useful skills which will sustain us economically. We must shun the dependency syndrome.
“The more we participate as women in empowerment programmes, the more we increase our voices will be heard and considered. Let us not be silent,” said Mandihlare.
Mandihlare also believes in the global theme of investing in a woman, revealing that the theme reflects how the world has understood and improved on addressing women’s issues and upscaling their inclusion and elevation.
“I just liked this year’s theme. It said educate a woman and the whole society will become educated. The theme shows that nations have come to a point of acknowledging the influence of a woman. Investing in a woman is a step ahead to achieving empowered societies too.
“So to us, as women let us work hard, find something to do since a disability or a physical impairment does not have anything to do with the brain. Let’s come up with ideas. To all the organisations that advocate for women with disabilities and to the government also, let’s not get tired of advocating and empowering women,” she added.
Meanwhile, in a message to mark International Women’s Day which was observed on the 8th of March, the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa reiterated her Ministry’s commitment to meaningful inclusion and participation of women in key economic sectors of the economy.
“My Ministry has put in place several programmes to ensure that women effectively participate in the following sectors:  agriculture, mining, tourism, trade, manufacturing and other sectors. These are being implemented in line with the Gender Policy and the Broad-Based Women Economic Empowerment Framework (BBWEEF) which calls for the participation of women in key economic sectors.
“My Ministry provides tailor-made and affordable loans to women and girls to fund income-generating projects. The loans are accessed through the Women Development Fund (WDF), Zimbabwe Community Development Fund (ZCDF) and Zimbabwe Women Micro Finance Bank (ZWMB).  The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Cooperation (SMEDCO) also supports entrepreneurs inclusive of women in business,” said Hon Mutsvangwa.
International Women’s Month has been set aside to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women and girls, their courage and significant determination in contributing to the country’s development.
 It is also the month to reflect on and track the progress made in the advancement of women’s empowerment agenda across spaces, with a particular focus on investing, budgeting and accelerating the women’s agenda as the core mandate for the year 2024.