BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
About 94 female informal traders in Epworth are set to benefit from a safe market structure built at Overspill Shopping Centre by United Nations Women in partnership with Katswe Sistahood at a cost of US$116 000.
The structure, set to be officially opened next month by Women Affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni was constructed under a safe-cities, safe-public spaces, safe-markets flagship programme.
The concept seeks to bring transformative change towards gender-based violence in public spaces, making the markets safe places for women and economically empowering them.
The project has been designed to address the impact of COVID-19 on women working in the informal sector.
Katswe Sistahood programmes manager Debra Mwase said the objective of the safe markets initiative was to economically empower women so that they can provide for and sustain their families, while at the same time operating in a violence-free space.
“So we needed a place where women could feel safe at all times,” Mwase said.
“Then came COVID-19; as you know the virus emerged from a market in Wuhan, China. There were a lot of negative perceptions about markets at the beginning of COVID-19. So, we needed to change that perception of markets as centres for disease but entry points to the promotion of public health.”
The Epworth safe market project was funded by the European Union through the Spotlight Initiative being implemented by UN Women in partnership with Katswe Sistahood.
Other partners are Epworth Local Board and Women Affairs ministry. There are plans to set up similar projects in Chipinge and Umzingwane.
The infrastructure also takes into consideration women and their children’s unique needs.
Construction of a spacious disability friendly and gender responsive, children and ladies’ ablution facilities with diaper changing rooms is underway.
A children’s play centre and a children’s room are additional special facilities that are meant to accommodate and safeguard children at the marketplace.
Tsungai Mugariwa (35), one of the beneficiaries, said she was very happy that they were finally working in a safe and healthy environment with adequate water and electricity.
“I am happy that we now have a clean market with enough water. We no longer fear contracting water borne diseases,” Mugariwa said.