ZIMBABWE’S Ministry of Women Affairs Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development and its partners have set up a sample safe market in Harare, Epworth Overspill area in a bid to reduce incidences of abuse, Gender and Sexual Based violence (SGBV) amongst women and children by providing women with a safe operating environment.
By Michael Gwarisa
The markets are part of Women affairs ministry’s Safe Cities program. According to studies conducted, a number of SGBV cases as well as abuse of children occur in unregulated public spaces such as market spaces.
Responding to questions during a Women’s Day commemorations event in Harare, Ministry of Women Affairs, Harare Metropolitan Provincial Development Officer, Mr Ernest Chimboza said the Epworth market was almost complete and will be ready for occupation anytime soon.
Under the Safe Cities Campaign, as a ministry through our partners we are constructing sample markets. One in Harare that is in Epworth, the other one will be constructed in Chipinge and the last one will be in Umzingwane in Matebeleland.
“These are markets where we expect women and girls to be safe from issues to do with GBV and I am happy to say in Harare, the Epworth market which is the first of its kind is almost complete. We have already constructed the market stalls, the shed and we have established a play center for children so that when the women are busy trading, the children will be in the play center which is fenced,” said Mr Chimboza.
He added that they were also in the process of putting an additional toilet for the women as well as adequate lighting to curb the occurrence of Sexual violence and abuse cases.
“We have renovated the toilet that was already there and we have also put another one. They are also going to put adequate lighting because GBV issues usually take place during dark hours especially sexual violence. They have already fenced the marketplace and people are going to access the market through controlled entry.”
Most women in Zimbabwe are earning a living through trade which is conducted in places that do not have adequate safety and hygiene. Women entrepreneurs also fear violence in public spaces as they commute to their workplaces.
Tariro Manyame (28) an upcoming business woman from Epworth applauded the ministry for establishing the safe market and also called on government to ensure more young women also take up space in such initiatives.
“The idea of a Safe Market that they have created in our community is commendable. Epworth is highly populated and most of us we are in the informal sector and this has been a great move which I think will change our community for the better and for us as women.
“The challenge however comes with the limited space that is at the safe market. There is a compartment for the vegetables and then another one for the clothes and stuff. It’s a model market and its being given to people who have markets. Some of us were hoping to gain entrance into the market but the then now it might be a challenge,” said Tariro.
The ministry of women affairs is working with UN Women and other partners in mobilizing investments to increase safety and economic viability of public spaces. This model involves UN Women working with non-governmental organizations in building the capacity of local governments to invest in engendering urban planning, including public infrastructure, such as markets.
UN Women is also implementing the Spotlight Initiative which aims at ending violence against women and girls by deploying targeted and large-scale investments to improve the lives of women and girls. The strategy also involves implementation of the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Flagship Programme to bring change through increased recognition of SGBV in public spaces and its impact.