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Horticulture industry in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has a diverse climate making it suitable for flower, fruit and vegetable production. These favorable climatic conditions attracted significant levels of foreign investment in the early 1990s and by 2000, horticultural production was thriving in the country, contributing 4% of GDP. The land reform program (2000), among other factors, reduced this growth momentum and since then, horticultural production has gone down significantly. 

Laws and regulations

The horticulture industry is labor intensive, particularly for grading, bunching and packing. It is at these stages that female labor is more preferred than male. The Labor Relations Act provides for general and specific regulations to female employees with regards to maternity leave, sick leave, weekly rest, public holidays, sexual harassment, wages, minimum wages, breastfeeding, working conditions, and workers representation. Although legal provisions are in place, sexual abuse for example is difficult to detect because most women fear victimization and loss of work and accommodation and therefore do not report the cases.

Zimbabwe is signatory to key women’s rights and gender equality instruments including most ILO conventions on workers’ rights. The Zimbabwe policy framework is gender sensitive. The 2013 Constitution In particular has provisions for gender equality. National institutions have been created whose mandates are to promote gender equity. Such institutions include the: Gender Commission; the Ministry of Women Affairs; Gender and Community Development and the Parliamentary Committee on Gender.

Challenges

Despite this elaborate and well-intended policy framework, there is limited policy implementation. Stakeholders argue decision making institutions are male dominated, resulting in low prioritization of gender issues. Wages are often below the poverty line, which is aggravated due to constant inflation. The majority of the workers are hired as casual laborers

Our work

In Zimbabwe, we work together with the following partners:

  • Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
  • General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ)
  • Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ)
  • Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA)
  • Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) 

CFU seeks to raise awareness among employers and employees about the rights of women farm workers and the unjust challenges faced by women employees in the agricultural industry.

GAPWUZ and implement a project to promote decent working conditions and eliminate gender inequalities in the horticulture sector in Zimbabwe by strengthening gender committees at the farms.

LEDRIZ identifies the challenges and constraints in achieving decent work for women, and through research offers recommendations towards addressing the identified challenges.

ZWLA’s work centers around the promotion of women’s right to decent work for women farm workers. This will be implemented through the production of a policy document on sexual harassment drafted with a gender lens, in order to address sexual harassment as it occurs in the farms. Such policy will recognize the gendered violence that ensues from sexual harassment with the effect that it has as a form of discrimination against women. Procedures for addressing sexual harassment will be adopted in the policy as a way of facilitating effective reporting and handling of sexual harassment cases.

Our accomplishments

  • GAPWUZ negotiated three times a salary increase for workers in the horticulture sector in 2019.
  • 5 farms (Sanele Farm, Umhali Farm, Cootzee, Vanbreda, and Anderson) which received compliance training through CFU are now GlobalGAP Certified  
  • ZWLA caused the change in policy through adoption agreements to the Sexual Harassment Policy in the Agricultural Industry drafted by ZWLA and signed between ZWLA and 9 FARMS 
  • In total, 155 representatives of women committees were trained by GAPWUZ, contributing to better functioning women’s committees. 
  • Through leadership skills workshops, women are empowered to become more actively involved in trade unions, have more confidence and raise awareness. 
  • Farm workers have been educated on their rights including through the use of arts and theater.
  • Eleven awareness raising campaigns have been held during the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, to build in-depth knowledge and understanding on issues related to GBV and the workplace.

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