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It’s not business as usual at UN Women Zimbabwe Country Office today

Deputy Country Representative of UN Women Zimbabwe Country Office (Zimbabwe CO), Revai Makanje-Aalbaek today welcomed a delegation from UN Women East and Southern Africa Region (ESARO) which is based in Kenya. The purpose of the ESARO mission is a functional analysis of the Zimbabwe CO. Among the delegation is the Regional Director of ESARO Christine Musisi and Regional Senior Advisor on Political Participation Leadership and Governance, Florence Butegwa, who is also one of the senior leaders at the UN Women African Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership (ACTIL). ACTIL is a joint initiative between UN Women ESARO and Kenyatta University housed at Kenyatta University, and established to respond to transformative and Inclusive leadership needs of women in Africa, and as a rejoinder to development trends on the globe.

In her opening speech to explain the purpose of the ESARO mission, the RO Director Christine Musisi highlighted the need for UN Women to depart from the mainstream in terms of programming for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to focus more on bringing Africa’s women to the heart of the continent’s transformation. She called on the need to target women strategically and differently, emphasizing that investing in women is not only a good thing but a smart thing to do.

“Violence against women is costing African governments between 1-3% of GDP in a continent where poverty is already the major obstacle. Poverty becomes both a cause and an effect of violence. Yes, as women we need to maintain the rights agenda, but we need to do it in innovative ways that will score for better for our agenda. It is a woman’s right to have access to a job and to good working conditions, but how can we as women start to talk about reducing violence when we cannot speak about reducing poverty? How can we reduce poverty without targeting the poor – who are in most cases women? How can we exclude a farmers’ agenda in our programming when women farmers are marginalised on all fronts? We need to drive a unique agricultural growth and development initiative as women to leverage women to reach a certain level of development in their own right as women farmers. We need to confront head on the negative impacts of extractive industry on women and spell out ways of finding compensation for affected women.”

Musisi noted that there are still some sections of our society looking back with backlash at the women’s empowerment agenda, but argued that this is not an issue of substance as long as women continue to take their work seriously. “As women we have to take ourselves and our work seriously to ensure that we carry the agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment forward.”

Two weeks ago UN Women Zimbabwe fielded a delegation of fourteen women parliamentarians and women leaders from Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC for a 7 day training on Leadership, Conflict Mediation and Conflict Management at ACTIL in Kenya.

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