Elita Chikwati and Tafadzwa Ndlovu—
The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe has warned police against consuming confiscated goods from vendors ,saying they also have a right to earn a living without being tormented. Addressing thousands of women at the commemorations of the International Women’s Day yesterday, Amai Mugabe said eradication of poverty and economic empowerment of women, as enunciated in the Beijing Declaration, were the chief anchors for achieving gender equality.
Some of the initiatives implemented by Government include facilitating women’s participation in key economic sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism and trade.
She urged Government to ensure that a conducive environment was put in place for women’s involvement in these sectors.
“This includes creation of facilities for women vendors who are usually subjected to all kinds of ill treatment,” said Amai Mugabe. “Mapurisa please mapurisa! Probably you were able to go to school and later be attested into the police force because your mother used to sell tomatoes to pay your school fees. Ngatiregerei kutorera vanhu zvinhu zvavo.
“If they are selling at undesignated places, tell them peacefully they will understand. Kana muine nzara musina matomatoes , kweretayi, chikwereti hachiurayi. Nokuti matomatoes iwayo nemiriwo yamuri kutora zvinenge zvichitengeswa paroad kana zvaakuzonzi ngazviburitswe tizvione panenge pasisina chinhu; zvakaora. Isu tinenge tatorerwa zvinhu zvedu zvichinzi zvakaora, tiratidzeyi zvakaora kudaro. Ngatiregerei kudarano veduwee — tiri kutsvaga kurarama.”
Amai Mugabe urged vendors to work hard and not to be shy when selling their wares.
“Madzimai tose tinotengesa zvatinotengesa ngatiregerei kunyara nekuti all this violence they perpetrate against us is because tinenge tisingakwanise kuzviitira,” she said.
“Usanyare mudzimai kuti unotengesa matomatoes. Ndorima kamunda kangu ndozotengesa nzungu dzangu kuti ndikwanise keundesa mwana kuchikoro.”
Amai Mugabe expressed concern over the low remuneration being paid to teachers.
“I have respect for the teachers,” she said. “I do not know why the teacher is not properly remunerated. To be what we are we all passed through the teacher.”
On gender based violence, Amai Mugabe said it was disturbing that with all the education and enlightenment some people still regarded violence as a solution to disputes.
“I am disturbed by the incident where a girl was stripped by touts for wearing a mini-skirt,” she said. “We will say stop it.
All those with such minds must cease to think like that. We all have children and we should give them the chance to grow up.
“I want to implore all stakeholders, particularly our traditional leaders and churches to closely work together to put to an end gender based violence.”
Amai Mugabe encouraged women to educate themselves so they can be empowered and be able to participate in decision making and socio-economic development.
“I want to urge all women and girls to actively participate in science and technology, engineering and mathematics,” she said.
“They should now break gender stereotypes, and venture into non-traditional careers.
“We also want women engineers, geologists, scientists. Sometimes women are abused because they are over-dependent on men.
“Women should liberate themselves by working hard and being self-sufficient.
“I want to tell women that the sky is the limit.
“We want a female for the post of the police commissioner general, commander of defence forces and prisons commissioner general. We can all do it and we can do it through education.”
The First Lady also urged women to participate in politics and decision making as these were fundamental pre-requisites for gender equality and women empowerment.
She said it was unfair that women and children were being forced to pay user fees at hospitals.
Amai Mugabe raised concern over the unavailability of markets for local produce and inaccessibility of loans from banks.
She said Government was working towards establishing a women’s bank to avail funds to women.
She said she had several programmes in the pipeline to assist women in business.
The commemorations were held under the theme “Beijing +20: the journey towards women empowerment in Zimbabwe: successes and challenges”.
The event was attended by the acting Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Cde Chris Mushohwe, Government ministers, Zanu-PF Politburo members, senators, women from the uniformed forces, nurses, student teachers and church members from different denominations.