Maputo — Mozambique’s First Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, on Wednesday called for greater efforts to discourage premature marriages and pregnancies.
Speaking in Maputo at the opening of a National Conference on Women and Gender, Guebuza also called for increased use of family planning, with the involvement not only of women, but also of their male partners.
“There are challenges ahead of us”, she declared. “We have to overcome the negative impact of these obstacles in order to consolidate our struggle for the construction of a just society”.
Nonetheless, Maria Guebuza declared that the results of the promotion and empowerment of women in Mozambique are visible, thanks to attempts to overcome gender imbalances. Thus 40 per cent of the seats in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, are held by women,
She added that 51.3 per cent of the country’s doctors, 41.5 per cent of the nurses and 36.9 per cent of the teachers are women.
The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Mozambique, Jennifer Topping told the conference that premature marriage and pregnancy remain serious problems, reflected in the fact that 18 per cent of Mozambican girls are married before they reach the age of 18, the legal age of majority.
This situation, Topping said, has a negative impact on girls’ education and on their health, and compromises their professional chances and their future quality of life.
Topping called for the creation of sustainable economic opportunities for women, particular for young women, women with a low level of education, women heads of household, and women living with HIV/AIDS. Success in this area would allow women to act against any form of discrimination.
“Equality between men and women is a question of human rights and a condition for social justice, development and peace”, she said. “The new generation of women should be able to plan their future and take informed decisions about their choices”.
The two day conference, held under the theme “Gender, Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health: the Key to Women’s Empowerment”, will also assess the legal instruments for protecting the rights of women.