By A Correspondent- The First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has extended her philanthropic work and empowerment initiatives to sex workers in Gweru where she donated farming inputs so that they could embark on farming projects.
Amai Mnangagwa donated the agricultural inputs through the Gweru Women’s Aids Prevention Association (GWAPA), an organisation that works with commercial sex workers in the city.
GWAPA has over two hectares of land to be used for farming activities to benefit its primary target; commercial sex workers.
Midlands Province has over 7 000 registered sex workers who are getting assistance from Government departments and other development partners like the Centre for Sexual Health HIV and Aids Research Zimbabwe.
The First Lady, who was represented by Midlands Provincial and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima, on Wednesday donated maize seed and fertiliser for this agricultural season.
The piece of land was provided to GWAPA by Gweru City Council, while Government will complement the efforts through provision of a tractor for tillage purposes through the District Development Fund (DDF).
The group expressed gratitude for the empowerment initiatives being facilitated by the First Lady in the face of adversities they face in their day to day lives.
Ms Miriam Nyathi who has been in the business for close to a decade commended the First Lady for the donation, which she said will uplift them.
“Most people fail to understand that for us to end up on the streets, it is not by choice. Circumstances differ. Some of us had children when we were still young. We need to feed these children. It’s not easy to come out in front of people and declare my profession as being a prostitute. I want to thank Amai Mnangagwa for this great initiative. We need more self-help projects,” she said.
Another sex worker, Ms Rita Mausengwe, said she was highly honoured to have Amai Mnangagwa taking time to think about their needs and sending her representatives with donations.
“This is a day to remember and hopefully we will have good rains so that we have a good yield. It’s not every day that we are remembered by powerful offices like this one of the First Lady. We want to thank you Amai and may you continue to assist us. We also want to take this opportunity to express our harassment at the hands of law enforcement agents. We are pleading with you to allow us space and arrest us if we violate the lockdown rules.
“We also face problems when we want to report our clients over abuse. The clients might be having money and end up walking scot free. We hope such challenges will be addressed,” she said.
Representing Amai Mnangagwa, Minister Mavima said Government has promised to empower sex workers through various initiatives such as the availing of farming inputs and a tractor by the First Lady to GWAPA.
“The First Lady said you also need to be empowered despite your profession. These things are coming from the President and presented to the First Lady to give to you. We want accountability in the distribution of these inputs and we want them to be properly utilised for farming not for you to resell. Show us somewhere where you are going to plant and we will give you the inputs,” he said.
Minister Mavima said they are going to provide land to GWAPA for them to embark on farming.
“It might be five to 10 hectares but if it’s worked on properly, you will harvest something that will uplift you. If you might come in groups, we will identify more land for you. I have heard your plight at the hands of the law enforcement agents. Prostitution is not a one-man band. It’s a two-way thing. The offence is not one sided. Why is it troubling only one part? Take them all. That way we get equality,” he said.
Midlands provincial chairperson for Young Women for Empowerment Development Mrs Farai Sipani said it was high time that young women came together and worked as a unit.
She said united, young women will develop in business and general livelihood.
“We are saying women, come let’s work together. Women don’t stay behind. The First Lady has passion for us. Let’s work and prove it’s worth it. All your concerns can be addressed through a collaboration with you to uplift your lives so you realise your dreams. We can provide training on various projects you might want to embark on. We can also collaborate and come up with good partnerships,” said Mrs Sipani.-statemedia