EU driving initiatives on women empowerment in Zimbabwe

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The European Union (EU) is a key partner with the Government of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders in driving women’s empowerment in the country.

On 27 March 2024, Team Europe, joined by Switzerland, hosted a special event in Epworth to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa, the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, graced the occasion as the guest of honour, joined by EU Ambassadors and distinguished representatives from various ministries, local authorities, the UN, NMB, and the development community. Ambassador of the European Union H.E. Jobst von KIRCHMANN highlighted,

“Team Europe is proud to stand alongside the women of Epworth on International Women’s Day, celebrating their strength and achievements. Together, we are committed to supporting not only the women of Epworth but also communities across Zimbabwe in their journey towards empowerment.”

The well-attended event allowed participants to witness how the first ever ‘Safe Market’ provided violence-free public spaces for women to conduct their economic activities. It also highlighted Team Europe’s and the European Union’s tangible contributions to women’s economic independence. It provided a platform for direct engagement between stakeholders and the community, including men and boys, underlining the significance of empowering women

In their remarks, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs presented its strategic plan for the years ahead, emphasizing the importance of women’s economic empowerment. EU Ambassador Jobst von Kirchmann, representing Team Europe, underscored the collective efforts of all members towards advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment under the Team Europe Initiative on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (TEI – GEWE). The total financial support for the Team Europe Initiative adds up to more than EUR 270 million (EU EUR 109, Sweden EUR 107, Ireland 23, Germany 16.5, The Netherlands 5, France 1,5, Switzerland 17). These figures represent the total amounts of all programmes and/or specific programme components that are ongoing during the TEI implementation period (2021-2027).

Ambassador Jobst von Kirchmann acknowledged the remarkable results achieved by the Spotlight Initiative in the course of the four years it had been financed by the EU (2019-2023), highlighting the importance of partnerships in combating gender-based violence and promoting women’s economic independence.

The Epworth market was praised for providing a safe space conducive to women’s progress. Fatou Lo, UN Women Country Representative said, “UN Women is unwavering in its commitment to a future where all public areas are secure for everyone, irrespective of their gender. This marketplace transcends its commercial function. It stands as a representation of the potential outcomes when safety and equality are given utmost importance. It serves as a tribute to the fortitude and tenacity of women in Zimbabwe”.

Women Stallholders were also provided the opportunity to share their empowerment stories and the value of accessible markets, before showcasing their products to the participating excellency in a tour of the market. Representatives from NMB and The Women’s Business Owners Trust affirmed the need for women to venture into diverse markets and shared insights on accessing finance for business growth.

The presence of a diverse range of stakeholders facilitated interactive learning and exchange, enhancing the event’s impact on empowering women and promoting gender equality.