Empower women with voices to spearhead community development-says minister

By Nhau Mangirazi

Deputy minister of Women`s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Jennifer Mhlanga made a passionate appeal to the media to amplify women voices for community development.

Speaking during a panel session with journalists attending a two day Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) workshop held in Chinhoyi recently, Mhlanga said it is the duty of media to ‘give women space and voices for community development’

She said, ‘‘It is your duty as media to highlight women issues affecting all communities as they need their space. A lot is happening around our communities and we have women as dedicated cadres who have never been given coverage to boost confidence and resilience of what they face daily including Cyclone Idai that affected Manicaland few years ago,’’

The workshop was running under the theme Increasing community access to information and participation in Zimbabwe.

Mhlanga added, ‘‘We have women out there who need coverage to build resilience on community development. The main challenges they face with the media is fear that at times they may be understood. Women in communities lack access to information and coverage hence remain under shadows from male counterparts. It is the duty of the media to amplify women voices for community development,’’

Chinhoyi Residents Association chairperson Clifford Hlupheko said women were worst affected by water crisis in the provincial capital.

He said, ‘‘Water is a perennial problem in Chinhoyi. We appeal to the Government to declare it a national disaster as it is affecting major towns and cities across the country. Government must come and give a hand to our communities so that we have access to clean water. Our water reticulation system is now absolute,’’ he said.

Although Hlupheko claimed some residents were resorting to fetch water from unprotected sources and drilled boreholes, he had no accurate figures of affected residents.

He, however, accused media of underreporting the water crisis in Chinhoyi.

Hlupeko said, ‘‘Residents raised the red flag over water crisis in Chinhoyi and local media silence is too glaring on issues affecting communities. Are you being paid by council officials so that you sweep under the carpet community concerns?’’

Mhlanga noted that water crisis has an impact on women and said it is imperative that it is rectified sooner than later.

She suggested that devolution funds must be channeled to improve water infrastructure  

Mhlanga added, ‘‘Water crisis is a cause of concern both in urban and rural setups. We call on local authorities to priorities and fund water infrastructures in our communities through devolution funds aimed at uplifting communities,’’

Zimbabwe joined the rest of world on Water day on 22 March under the theme Valuing Water.

World water day is commemorated annually to raise awareness globally where 2.2 billion people live without access to safe water resources.