HARARE, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe on Wednesday joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 2017 International Women's Day.
Thousands of women and girls gathered at the Harare International Conference Center where they celebrated the day at a colorful event that was punctuated by song and dance.
Speaking at the event, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe Bishow Parajuli said Zimbabwe has made great strides in women empowerment and gender equality although more effort is still needed to create an environment where women and girls can achieve their full potential.
He noted that Zimbabwe has performed well in women representation in parliament which currently stands at 35 percent, higher than the global average of 23 percent.
Zimbabwe had also achieved gender parity in primary education and had enacted several laws to protect women and girls from gender based violence and other abuses, Parajuli said.
He voiced UN's commitment to continue supporting gender equality and women empowerment in Zimbabwe, saying these were key to achievement of sustainable development goals.
He said Zimbabwe, however, needs to continue working hard to ensure women and girls have access to education and resources as well as remove structural barriers, gender discrimination and gender stereotypes.
Ending child marriage was also key to protecting the rights of girls and ensure they reach their potential, Parajuli said.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that still has a high number of girls that marry under the age of 18 mainly due to poverty and harmful cultural and religious practices.
"As the UN we would like to voice our strong commitment to collaborate with the government of Zimbabwe to provide space for women and girls to achieve their potential," Parajuli said.
Guest of honor and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) deputy governor Charity Dhliwayo said the RBZ regarded women empowerment as one of the factors important for the development of the nation.
The central bank had put in place several financing mechanisms targeted at women to ensure they have easy access to affordable financing for businesses, according to Dhliwayo.
"The RBZ has realized that women empowerment cannot be achieved without ensuring their access to and usage of appropriate and affordable financial products and services," she said.
Women's Affairs Minister Nyasha Chikwinya challenged women to play their part in the development of the nation. She said her ministry was at an advanced stage of setting up a women's bank to cater for financial needs of women.
The Day was celebrated under the international theme "Be Bold For Change" while Zimbabwe's theme was "The woman we want: bankable, business-minded, brainy, beautiful, bold, blessed and balanced." Enditem