UN Women's Regional Director for East and Southern Africa visits Zimbabwe: strategic positioning and advocacy with key partners for gender equality
The UN Women Zimbabwe country office welcomed Dr. Maxime Houinato, Regional Director East and Southern Africa Regional Office, for a visit between 4th and 7th July 2022. The mission aimed to advise and strategically position UN Women Zimbabwe in line with the office’s objectives to support the women’s movement strategies to reinvigorate resource mobilization approaches based on current partnerships and the specific context of the country.
Meeting the UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Edward Kallon on 4th July, Dr. Houinato acknowledged and appreciated the Resident Coordinator’s leadership and support of gender equality and women’s empowerment, and achievement of a UN Strategic Cooperation Framework that fully integrates gender at all levels. He reiterated UN Women’s commitment to work with all UN agencies to deliver its mandate including UN Women's coordination mandate that provides a strong platform to drive UN efforts towards achieving SDG 5.
Dr. Houinato met with the Zimbabwe Chapter of the African Women Leader’s network and representatives of civil society organizations on 5th July. The dialogue gave partners a chance to engage with the Regional Director. Speaking at the dialogue, Dr. Houinato highlighted the critical role of AWLN as a diverse and intergenerational platform that can bridge differences of age, politics, and social and economic divides and galvanize women’s leadership to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. He got a chance to hear some of the work the Innovators Against Gender-based Violence (IAGs) working under the Spotlight Initiative were doing. He also interfaced with key CSOs UN Women Zimbabwe has been working with and listened to their successes and concerns.
On 6th July, Dr. Houinato accompanied by UN Women Zimbabwe Country Representative Ms. Fatou Lo made a courtesy call to the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MOWACSMED) where he met with the Permanent Secretary Mr. Moses Mhike, the Chief Director, Ms. Lilian Matsika and the Acting Director Gender Mr. Stephen Nyaruwata.
Key highlights of the meeting included the partnership UN Women has had with the Ministry in providing capacities and models such as the SAFE Market and the High-level political compact which is one of the milestone achievements under the Spotlight Programme. Looking forward, the Ministry expressed the need for continued engagement on Ending Child Marriages and support for Gender law reforms and capacity development on Gender Financing mechanisms.
UN Women in collaboration with UNDP held a Gender Café themed “Women Entrepreneurship, Sharing Experiences, Opportunities and Learning” on the 6th of July 2022 at “The Venue” in Avondale Harare. The key speaker at the inaugural café was Dr Rubana Huq, a Bangladeshi businesswoman who was visiting Zimbabwe. The café was an opportunity for the Regional Director to listen to the Zimbabwean experience of women in business. Businesswomen were encouraged to harness the power of storytelling by documenting women’s success stories and sharing them widely.
Dr. Houinato visited the Epworth Safe Market, a Model Gender Responsive Safe market that opened in September 2021 at Overspill Shopping Centre in Epworth, Harare. He toured the 96 secure market stalls, children’s play area, children’s resting room, and various amenities offered by the market and got a chance to interact with council officials and market vendors at their stalls.
Speaking to the traders at the market, Dr. Houinato suggested that as the model is upscaled, the next phase could open access to its facilities for a fee, the use of the recycling center, children’s play center, and ablution facilities to bring in some income and boost self-sustainability of the market. Dr. Houinato also encouraged the men occupying the market to be champions for safer cities and role models in their community and he challenged the implementing partner to map out a clearer and strengthened the role of men occupying the market.
On the final day of the mission, Giles Enticknap the Deputy Ambassador of Britain, current chair for the #HeForShe Champions and Allies in Zimbabwe hosted Dr. Houinato to a lunch attended by eleven #HeForShe Champions and Allies including diplomats and business leaders at the British Embassy Residence in Zimbabwe. Some of the outcomes discussed at the meeting included a need for missions and business entities to promote gender sensitivity in procurement, supply chains, distribution channels, and recruitments while enhancing the capacity and capabilities of women in these processes. It was also highlighted that men should promote positive masculinities and reinforce the self-esteem, dignity, and worth of women in their communities including daughters, wives, and workmates.