Friday, September 11, 2009

Zimbabwe Businesswomen Can Do It!

Zim businesswomen can do it!

ZIMBABWEAN women, largely confined to peripheral areas in the economy, should seize opportunities presented by the current economic regeneration thrust.

The formation of the inclusive Government and the attendant softening in the economy witnessed since the beginning of the year, presents probably the best opportunity in years for women to participate in the rebuilding of the economy.

Although the last few years have seen significant strides by women professionals and those in business, the womenfolk are generally still to make their mark.

That they have a role to play in Zimbabwe’s economic processes has never been in doubt, but it is time the potential resident in the fairer sex is turned into reality for the good of this country.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the economy is expected to grow by about 4 percent this year, a fact women should take up as a challenge.

Globally, women have resigned themselves to small projects except for a few more daring ones. The script needs to change — women who outnumber men in population terms — should claim their fair share of the cake.

Opportunities present themselves in such areas as infrastructure development, power generation, mining, manufacturing and tourism, just to name a few.

Investors are hunting for joint venture partners and there is great scope in them partnering with local women to help reshape the economy.

Vice President Joice Mujuru last week challenged women attending a trade and investment conference in Harare to take up their rightful position in the economy.

She emphasised that the inclusive Government has created a platform from which women can participate more actively in all sectors of the economy.

Over the years women have bemoaned such challenges as lack of information, poor funding and unequal opportunities but VP Mujuru was bold when she said any disparities would be overcome if women themselves become more proactive.

We couldn’t agree with her more. Women need to shrug off petty issues to advance their cause and take advantage of the growing investor interest in this economy.

If women in other countries such as South Africa can own dually-listed firms and run some of the biggest mining and construction firms in the face of challenges, surely our local women can do the same and achieve even better results.

The general mindset of moaning this or that challenge has resulted in the womenfolk missing the bus many a time.

Achievements demonstrated by SA businesswomen during last week’s trade and investment conference indicate that women can always find ways and means of circumventing any constraints once they put their mind to it.

Of course, support from Government and other stakeholders will always come in handy in this quest.

Government policies over the years have largely been in small and medium enterprises but women now want to be more daring and go for large projects such as power generation and infrastructure development.

Women need to be more involved even in policy-making to ensure a more level playing field and equal opportunities that are not gender- biased.

On their part, women should not expend energy on pulling each other down but should, instead take advantage of their numbers to network as advised by VP Mujuru.

The numerous women’s organisations in this country should not compete but complement each other in advancing their cause. More will be achieved if this were to happen, for the benefit of the economy at large.

Indeed, the greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising each time we fall — it is about time that the Zimbabwean women consciously decide to make a difference not only in their homes or communities but in the country’s economic well-being.

Zimbabwe needs an empowered woman.

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