Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan province Judith Ncube has challenged women in business to ensure they produce quality goods so they can be able to export their products across the globe.
Addressing women in business at a breakfast workshop in Bulawayo, Tuesday, Ncube urged women to take full advantage of such platforms as the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair to market their products.
The workshop, held by Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministry, ran under the theme Empowerment of women: The missing link towards vision 2030.
The workshop aimed at providing a networking platform for women in business as they have flooded the informal business sector with regards to the marketing of their products.
Ncube expressed gratitude to the efforts being made by the ministry in complementing efforts of the women in business.
“We appreciate the role played by women in economic development. I am informed that the ministry’s vision is to economically and socially empower women through planned and concrete programs where those women who are in business can pull up or mentor those who are still struggling to break free from the shackles of feminised poverty,” said Ncube.
She said women are being short-changed due to the current economic situation as they fail to secure markets for their products.
“Existing marketing promotion activities and services are not sufficient considering the needs of women producing high-quality Zimbabwe products. It is the ministry’s desire that women have access to markets in order for their products to be exported across the globe,” she said.
Ncube added that the ministry of women affairs, community small and medium enterprise development is mandated to promote the empowerment of women.
“This goes well with the provisions of the Constitution which states that every woman has full and equal dignity with men and this includes equal opportunities in political economic and social activities,” said Ncube.
Ncube decried various setbacks that are inhibiting the expansion of this sector.
“Generally, main obstacles experienced by women are overall lack of access to markets and market linkages, lack of understanding on the existing trade regimes and bilateral agreements, difficulties in meeting the potential demand and high-quality standards for products as well as limited access to finance because of lack of collateral security,” the minister said
She added: “In an effort to address the issues of marketing of women’s products, the ministry is facilitating the creation of linkages through organisation of the participation of women in exhibitions at national, regional and international levels.”
Ncube urged women in business to desist from the” pull her down” syndrome and instead, help those venturing into the business sector by showing them the ropes.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation vice president Linda Mpofu highlighted the need to devise ways to quantify women’s mine claims so they may serve as collateral to help them access finance.
“Mining is capital intensive. Women, due to lack of collateral security find challenges in accessing loans. May fellow women in the financial sector work towards availing funds. “We also need qualified personnel who can quantify mining claims belonging to women so that they can use these as collateral to access funds,” said Mpofu.
“Mining is a male-dominated industry hence factors affecting women are given less attention. For instance, women are more affected by mercury than men are but not much has been done to address the predicament.”