Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) held a workshop in Chinhoyi for women under its Informal Economy Women’s Hub (INEWOH). The Hub, which was launched in August of this year, has a programmatic thrust that is anchored on enhancing the entrepreneurial skills of women in the informal economy, development of a gender policy for the informal economy, improving access to information, fostering financial inclusion, participation in development anchored decision making processes, elimination of gendered corruption, gender based violence and the championing of reproductive health issues. The workshop which was held in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, drew participants from young women and female traders operating from various markets in Chinhoyi town.
VISET Executive Director Samuel Wadzai in his welcoming remarks said that the workshop was the first of provincial tours being undertaken under INEWOH in order to conscientise women on the rights accorded to them under the Constitution of Zimbabwe, as well as raising awareness on recourse available when violations visit them in the workplace in the form of gendered corruption such as the practice of ‘sex tortion’ where traders are coerced into giving sexual favours by policing authorities and space barons.
Wadzai also revealed that the organisation would soon be launching a behavioural pledge in municipal markets throughout the country as a means of self-regulation, as women are equally victim to abusive behaviour from their male colleagues through use of inappropriate language and cat calling, amongst other violations.
The facilitator for the day Ms. Monalisa Chitura spoke on the need for women to be aware of their rights as the Constitution had many provisions to protect the rights of women including a Gender Commission that is fully constituted with a secretariat.
Chitura said it was unfortunate that many viewed Commissions as being ineffective and unresponsive, but this was far from reality, and gave the example where the Supreme Court recently gave the green-light to the Gender Commission to carry out investigations on a pastor and his church, following complaints of sexual harassment by female congregants.
She also highlighted that abuse is not only limited to physical and sexual, but also included verbal and emotional, hence women should readily call out and report when violated so that prosecution takes place so as to act as a deterrent.
Mai Chawaremera, a VISET Social Economic Champion (SOCHAMP) operating in Gadzema Township, thanked VISET for the workshop saying it was an eye opener in raising their awareness on certain behaviours that were prevalent in homes and their workplaces which were tantamount to abuse, but owing to cultural practices, ignorance and unequal power relations in society, there was unawareness by women on recourse available to them.
She also welcomed the proposed VISET Behavioral Pledge, saying that often times, crude language was employed by their male counterparts within earshot of their minor children and so it would be a most welcome initiative. Mai Chawaremera also urged VISET to lobby government to rollout gender sensitivity programmes in all state institutions, schools and municipal authorities as well as publicity campaigns in order to reach as many people as possible, both would be perpetrators and victims, as well as giving deterrent sentences to offenders.
In conclusion, Edward Kapodogo of the VISET Programmes Department said they would be giving out educative materials in order to distribute to more people for greater reach as they were currently curtailed by COVID-19 regulations in having more participants at workshops. He also announced that VISET will soon have a National Coordinator in charge of the operations of the Informal Economy Women’s Hub.