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Canada supports Zimbabwean organisations in gender equality projects
Taurai Maduna,
February 01, 2007

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(From left to right) Godrey Chitambo, Executive Director (ZAMFI), Roxanne Dubé,Canada's Ambassador to Zimbabwe & (ZAMFI) respresentative
(From left to right) Godrey Chitambo, Executive Director (ZAMFI), Roxanne Dubé,Canada's Ambassador to Zimbabwe & (ZAMFI) respresentative

The Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe is set to launch an intensive awareness campaign in Masvingo on the Domestic Violence Bill which was gazetted in parliament on June 30, 2006. The Bill is meant to provide for protection and relief to victims of domestic violence.

The Women’s Coalition pilot campaign to be conducted over a period of one year is one of the three projects launched in Zimbabwe today by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). CIDA is funding three projects aimed at empowering and promoting gender equality in Zimbabwe valued at CAD$168 000.

Roxanne Dube, Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe said the pilot campaign on the Domestic Violence Bill is intended to change the mindset that domestic violence belongs in the private sphere. "The pilot project on the Domestic Violence Bill will enable all stakeholders to jointly uphold and protect the rights of women and children," said Dube.

Netsai Mushonga, Coordinator for the Women's Coalition
Netsai Mushonga, Coordinator for the Women's Coalition

Netsai Mushonga, Coordinator for the Women's Coalition told that her organisation would launch the pilot project in Masvingo because this city has the highest femicide cases in the country. listen to audio file

In an effort to raise awareness amongst the local community in Masvingo, Mushonga said the Coalition has produced an abridged version of the Domestic Violence Bill, which has been translated into two of the local languages, Shona and Ndebele.
listen to audio file

The Women's Coalition received CAD$63 000 aimed at supporting efforts toward improving the coordination and collaboration within women groups in Zimbabwe. Part of the money was used for activities around 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence in November and December 2006.

CIDA has also contributed over CAD$63 000 to the micro-finance project being implemented by the Southern African Micro Finance Capacity Building Facility (SAMCAF). The project, which will run over a three-year period, will benefit more than 15 000 people, more than half of who are women. According to SAMCAF, the project will strengthen the capacity of 13 Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to integrate gender and HIV/AIDS into their programmes.

Godrey Chitambo, Executive Director for Zimbabwe Association of Micro Finance Institutions (ZAMFI) told that in 2004 a study conducted by the University of Zimbabwe and funded by CIDA on the impact of micro-finances on enterprises owned by women had revealed that 80% of their clients were women.

Chitambo said while 80% of their clients are women both ZAMFI and MFIs had gender empowerment strategies. He added that his organisation is addressing gender inequalities and hoped that the CIDA funded programme will go a long way in raising the profile of gender and HIV/AIDS issues amongst MFIs. listen to audio file

MFIs in Zimbabwe play a key role in poverty reduction through providing financial and non-financial services to economically active but poor people in Zimbabwe.

Christina Mudungwe who is living positively with HIV and who is a beneficiary of MFIs gave an emotive testimony on how family and friends shunned her when she was trying to raise money to pay her hospital bills. She said she got relief when she received funding from one MFI and now she is able to sustain her family by selling vegetables in Mbare, one of Harare's oldest townships.

According to CIDA the three projects that are being funded contribute directly to the fight against HIV/AIDS by reducing domestic violence and poverty, which have been linked to the spread of the pandemic.

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