BuaNews (Tshwane)

6 February 2012

South Africa: Xingwana Spotlights Importance of Educating Girls

Pretoria — Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, has reiterated the call for an emphasis to be placed on educating girl children.

The minister believes educating girl children is an important process to promote gender equality and invest in their future.

Addressing the 5th International Women's Conference in Bangalore, India, on Sunday, Xingwana said poor access to schools and learning centres and the relatively high cost of education continue to be barriers for poor families to support the education of girls.

"In addition, unrelenting social prejudice against female education continues to be a major stumbling block to women empowerment and gender equality," Xingwana told delegates.

Rural girls, she said, continued to face economic and social barriers to formal education and thus might not achieve their full potential as adults.

"Hence, the situation calls for increased resources and intensified efforts to enhance female adult literacy in rural areas and empower rural women with technical information and knowledge to improve their health and participation in the increasingly complex world."

She noted that information and communication technologies have the potential to enhance the economic empowerment of women.

According to Xingwana, of the 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty around the globe, 70 percent are women but they only earn 10 percent of the world's income and own less than 1 percent of the world's property.

Last year, the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities launched the Techno-Girl Project, which seeks to change the face of the South African market where there is lack of significant representation of women in scientific professions.

The project, in partnership with the Department of Education and UNICEF, encourages girl children to pursue fields in Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology where women have historically been under-represented.

The conference, which was held under the theme "Empowering women through technology", ran from 3 - 5 February.

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