Speech by the Country Director at the launch of the revised National Gender Policy

Jul 6, 2017

On behalf of the United Nations family, it is a privilege and honour to officiate at this very important event, marking the launch of the National Gender Policy.

As you are all aware, the final policy document is a culmination of an extensive and inclusive consultation process with government institutions, citizens of Zimbabwe, development partners, civil society organizations and the private sector.

The UN is honoured to have partnered with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in the production of well-researched thematic background papers and nation-wide consultations to support the development of the policy.

Aligned to the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe, which itself is anchored on a firm foundation for pursuing gender equality and equity in Zimbabwe, the launch of new National Gender Policy is very timely.

It dovetails with the implementation of Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals that recognises gender equality as a fundamental right and a driver of progress across all the development goals.

The Policy is in line with the African Union Agenda 2063 which aims to achieve “full gender equality in all spheres of life” through removing “all forms of gender discrimination in the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres.”

The policy facilitates the domestication of the revised SADC Gender and Development Protocol which Zimbabwe has recently signed.

It is pleasing to note the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (or ZUNDAF), is already aligned to the Gender Policy.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women is central to the mandate of all UN Agencies and, under the coordination of UN Women, this work is intrinsic to our development approach.

These efforts include advocating for women’s and girls’ equal rights, combating discriminatory practices and challenging the roles and stereotypes that affect inequalities and exclusion.

The SDGs identify gender equality, centred in human rights, as a development goal on its own and as vital to accelerating sustainable development. The Zimbabwe Gender Policy is anchored on this very principle as it recognizes gender equality as the cornerstone for achieving equitable and sustainable economic and social development.

We have been pursuing this goal through an excellent collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

In the realm of policy, we have been working closely with the Ministry in the initiation of the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative and we are providing advisory support for the establishment of a Women’s Micro-Finance Bank, to name but a few of the areas of collaboration.

It is against this background that we commend the launch of this National Gender Policy as a significant milestone in the Government of Zimbabwe’s progressive march towards a common agenda and vision for achieving gender equality.

Indeed, the policy’s vision of building “a gender just society in which all men and women enjoy equality and equity and participate as equal partners in the development process of the country” is bold, smart and compelling.

This vision, translated into 10 strategic objectives, offers many entry points for various stakeholders — including development partners, civil society, private sector, academia — to work together with the Government on the interlinked pillars of social, economic and political empowerment of women.

The Ministry is particularly commended for the inclusion of a thematic area on the gender dimensions of people living with disability, an area which requires all our concerted efforts and commitment. This is in line with the core SDG principle of leaving no one behind and with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Now that the policy is in place, we need to quickly move on to its operationalization. There is a growing body of evidence to support the case for renewed investments in gender equality and women empowerment to achieve sustainable development.

A key finding in the 2016 UNDP Africa Human Development Report, for example, is that sub-Saharan Africa loses around 95 billion $ per year – or roughly 5% of the combined GDP - due to gender inequality. This greatly impedes the continent's efforts for economic growth.

At the global level, experts say that levelling the playing field for women at work also positively impacts the growth and development of countries. Quoting a McKinsey report, the Commission on the Status of Women highlights that a scenario in which women play an identical role as men in labour markets could add as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to global annual GDP in 2025. This impact is roughly equivalent to the size of the combined US and Chinese economies today.

These examples signal that a policy and programmatic focus on harnessing the unused potential of women is an important economic and social driver for more inclusive and sustainable development. The Zimbabwean gender policy launched here today, does precisely that and we commend the Government of Zimbabwe for spearheading this work.

Furthermore, it is evident that efforts in Zimbabwe of economic empowerment are already taking root. Such as the Financial Inclusion Strategy adopted by the Reserve Bank, which is currently funded with over 90 million $ and the work on the establishment of a Women’s Microfinance Bank. These are laudable initiatives that, in a concrete manner, help implement the Gender Policy.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Finally, I would like to touch briefly on the question that is perhaps, foremost in our minds as we launch this policy today: how to make it truly effective and deliver the desired results?

Our observations are two-fold:

1.    A focus on implementation, supported by robust monitoring and evaluation:  we are aware of the efforts by the Ministry to follow through with implementation of the policy. In this regard, UN Women has already supported the Ministry to establish a Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Framework which identifies key gender indicators for each line ministry. The United Nations stands ready to support the Government further in ensuring a successful roll out and monitoring of the policy.

2.    Partnerships: Given the need for collective action, implementation needs to benefit from strong links amongst all stakeholders - relevant line ministries, development partners, community-based organizations, private sector, academia and media, etc.

The inclusive nature that led to the development of this policy lays a strong foundation for such partnerships. Continued popularisation and regular updates on implementation progress will help further nurture these partnerships.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my sincere hope that the implementation of this National Gender Policy will   contribute to meeting the aspirations of Zimbabwe’s women and men as enshrined in the Constitution.

As such, I take this opportunity to reiterate the UN Agencies’ continued commitment to work with the Government of Zimbabwe and other partners to ensure that the ambitious goals of this policy are translated into reality.

Thank You 

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