COMPREHENSIVEmeasures need to be taken to integrate women in manufacturing industry leadership positions and build their productive capacity through enhanced technological skills development and information sharing, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, said yesterday.
Globally, women entrepreneurship is one of the fastest-growing narratives, with rising contribution towards innovation, employment, and wealth creation, she said.
The development of women entrepreneurship, said Dr Nzenza, is a vital ingredient to economic advancement and sustainable economic growth.
“We must collaborate and increase women’s access to lines of credit, training, trade networks and information,” she said.
“Lending institutions should come up with innovative financing ways instead of the traditional requirements for historical financial statements and collateral in the form of land and property.”
The minister made the remarks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she is attending the 4th edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit and the Belarus Investment Forum (BIF). Both events are being held on the sidelines of the on-going Expo Dubai2020.
Dr Nzenza delivered her speech during the ‘Women in Leadership: Levelling the field’ panel discussion, in which she stressed the need to streamline women’s participation in key industrial value chains.
As the country pursues the economic reform and transformation agenda, she said capacitating women for industrial operations was critical.
The minister also challenged the delegates to walk the talk on women empowerment and called for increased knowledge sharing to enhance women’s industrial and technological know-how.
“The creation of women entrepreneur networks can go a long way in this regard.
There is a place for contribution of women to global prosperity and development through innovation, technology, upskilling and capacity building,” said Dr Nzenza.
“We, therefore, must not only be intentional in our bid to elevate women participation but we must also be intentionally strategic.”
In support of efforts by women, Dr Nzenza said the Government’s National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025) prioritises gender mainstreaming through visible initiatives that confer equal opportunities to women in line with regional and international ideals.
She said the Government was also prioritising resource allocation and disbursement to women empowerment programmes including the capitalisation of the Women’s Microfinance Bank and enhancing access to financing for women in business.
The summit comes at a time when Zimbabwe and the global economy are seized with mapping strategies for post-Covid-19 recovery and determining the role of the industrial sector towards accelerating recovery.
Women, who contribute approximately 80 percent of food production in sub-Saharan Africa, are seen as a critical force with huge potential to contribute more to the household income in Africa.
However, a majority of women including those in Zimbabwe, are still operating in the informal sector, said Dr Nzenza. Hence the Government was working hard to address the situation with the desire to formalise the sector and widen its impact on the economy.
“The gains in economic advancement were, however, disrupted by the imposition of sanctions and isolation of Zimbabwe,” she said.
The minister is being accompanied by senior officials from her ministry, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Authority (ZIDA) and ZimTrade.