“Equal access to education, training and science and technology for women: Pathway to economic development”.
Chinhoyi — This year’s celebration marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day commemorations. The focus of the celebrations is on equal access to education, training and science and technology. About two thousand women, men, girls and boys attended the commemoration held at Chinhoyi University of Technology in Chinhoyi, a town approximately 100 kilometers south of Harare where the Guest of Honor was the Vice President Honorable Joice Mujuru. Women in a joyous celebratory mood danced, sang and ululated as the day’s proceedings went on.
Speaking during the commemoration, the Vice President encouraged women to be involved in science and technology inherent in the country’s traditional value system for a better future. She said that technology can only come to complement and improve upon what our people have known over the ages.
She also urged women to take advantage of opportunities that arise in education and business to improve their life. Women should be confident and prioritize things for the betterment of their lives and family she said. The Honorable Minister for Gender, Women Affairs and Community Development, Dr. Olivia Muchena called upon women to aim higher. Young girls can also be professors, it is not impossible, it can be done she said.
The UN Resident Coordinator (UN RC) Alain Noudehou, in his statement commended progress being made in Zimbabwe on upholding the human rights of women and girls as equal citizens. As a signatory to international treaties and conventions, Zimbabwe’s commitment to advancing the women’s agenda had been inspiring. Some of the treaties include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women, the SADC Gender Protocol and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.
A number of domestic policies and laws have been enacted to further strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment. These target domestic violence, education for all and inheritance.
Mr Noudehou also highlighted that about two out of three illiterate adults in Zimbabwe are women and only one out of three students in upper secondary school is a girl. Women comprise less than 20% in parliament, and one out of five ministers is a woman.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for significant progress in women and girls health in his statement which was read by Mr. Alain Noudehou. He said that the September 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals recognized the central importance of women and girls’ health, and UN member states pledged strong support for the global strategy to save lives and improve the health of women and children over the next four years.
The UN Resident Coordinator further said that “Investing in women’s and girls’ opportunities is a good investment, which aside from the direct positive effects on the lives of women and girls, often generates spin-off effects in other development areas. Without this investment we undermine the quality of our democracy, the strength of our economies, the health of our societies and the sustainability of peace,”
The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Permanent Secretary, Dr. Utete Masango acknowledged the support the Ministry is getting from the UN family towards promoting gender equality.
An exhibition of works by women and on women was also mounted in the adjoining gymnastics hall. The United Nations Country Team in Zimbabwe mounted an exhibition of publications on women that were produced by the UN.
The celebration was attended by officials from the government, UN and civil society. These included members of parliament; senators; the Deputy Minister for Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Honorable Jessie Majome and the Governor for Mashonaland West. In addition to the UN Resident Coordinator, UN Agencies were represented by Dr. Tambashe, UNFPA Representative, Ms. Hodan Addou UN Women, Country Programme Manager UN Women Zimbabwe, Mrs. Tafadzwa Mwale from UNIC and many other colleagues.