MAINSTREAMING GENDER INTO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: An Examination of the Strategies of Urban Women in the Informal Sector‟s Livelihoods: A Case Study of Harare.
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Despite that a number of central government ministries and local authorities and non-state sector agencies have adopted a number of policies and strategies to address urban poverty, women prevalently continue to dominate low-return development activities. In this regard, there is the undermining of women potential as they undertake low-profile activities like selling of tomatoes. From evidence available and experience, it can be argued that the low-income-earning males, compared to their female counterparts, have 'graduated' into full-scale champions in various sectors – micro-scale finance (chimbadzo), construction, manufacturing, trade, transport, to mention but a few. As a result of a vicious cycle of poverty wreaking havoc and ever menacingly unwinding itself in the economy, women engaging in least-rewarding activities, a downright deterioration of the standards of citizens, more profound for the poor urban household will but perpetuate the urban poverty and deep marginalization of women. This study found out that policy-makers and implementers need be informed on practical and feasible ways of alleviating the problem of urban women engaging in unproductive or least-rewarding activities (where resources in terms of both inputs and outputs are limiting) will be found. An examination of the policies in force has been made in order to evaluate their effectives in addressing the gap in urban women livelihood activities and engagements. The case study of Harare hereby used reveals that it is still along way to real eventual empowerment of this disadvantaged group. Three are many factors inhibiting the smooth flow of the empowerment drive in Harare in particular and Zimbabwe at large.