FEMALE traders have bemoaned rampant sexual harassment at the country’s borders, saying this frustrated their efforts to penetrate the business sector.
This came out at the official launch of a book titled Understanding the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and how it relates to Zimbabwean women in trade. The event was organised by the United Nations (UN Women), in partnership with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) to raise awareness on the African Union AfCFTA policy on Zimbabwean women in trade.
UN Women country representative Delphine Serumaga said improvement in women’s income had an immediate positive impact on the development of communities, hence the need to support women in business.
“Girls and young women represent a crucial labour force as they play a key role as producers of food, managers of natural resources, income earners, and main caregivers of their families and communities,” Serumaga said.
She called for an end to gender-based discrimination in trade, adding that allowing free movement of goods and trade would ensure poverty alleviation among girls and women.
Female participants cited several challenges which included lack of knowledge of trade regulations which made them vulnerable.
Leader of the ZCC women’s group Charity Mangena said: “When we go to trade across the borders, we face challenges of lack of accommodation. Men end up taking advantage of us and we are abused. Our commodities are stolen, sometimes we end up overstaying at the border yet we have families back home that we need to take care of.”
ZCC programmes officer Admire Mutizwa said: “The AfCFTA policy should put in place concrete measures to address issues of tariff imbalances that women face while trading.”