Women and girls bear the brunt of poverty and deserve economic, social and political rights as their male counterparts, a top United Nations (UN) official has said.


Officiating at the launch of Women in Africa Initiative in Harare on Saturday, UN resident co-ordinator, Maria Ribeiro said: “I feel honoured to share the UN perspective on women empowerment as a driver of inclusive growth and addressing social issues such as gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women compared to men.”

“I am inspired by Women in Africa’s dedication to the economic development of Africa and their commitment to supporting leading and high potential African women…your initiative’s focus on the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe is a powerful indication of the Women in Africa’s commitment to uplift the lives of rural women who are the majority.”

She noted with concern the undermining of the women in agriculture despite providing 70% of the labour.

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“Despite constituting the larger percentage of the agricultural labour force, women are still confronted with issues such as less access to assets, credit services and markets,” she said.
She said the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals cannot be fulfilled without empowering women and girls and ensuring gender equality, particularly those in rural areas.

Ambassador of Women in Africa Initiative in Zimbabwe, Laureen Adam said agriculture could be a great wealth generator for the continent, but it cannot be a path to prosperity if farmers don’t get training in improved farming techniques and services.

“Government policies will be key to removing obstacles faced by women farmers and creating an enabling environment for them to thrive,” she said.