Women empowerment

Women empowerment

Not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality.

As a result, women continue to be discriminated against and their contributions undervalued.

They work more, earn less and have fewer choices about their bodies, livelihoods and futures than men; and they experience multiple forms of violence at home, work and in public spaces.

This is according to Anne Githuku-Shongwe, the United Nations (UN) Women South Africa Multi-Country Offi ce representative.

UN Women is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. On a positive note,

GithukuShongwe said that South Africa has seen incredible progress regarding women in politics and political leadership over the past 25 years.

Before the 1994 elections, women accounted for 2.7 percent of parliamentary seats. After the 2019 national elections, 45 percent of parliamentarians are women and half of the national executive are women, she said.

“South Africa joins just 11 countries in the world that have 50 percent or more women Ministers in Cabinet (Rwanda and Ethiopia are the other two African countries).

Decisions like these – that change the dynamic of critical institutions and dismantle negative norms – are what we need to effect cultural change as well in communities, workplaces and families,”

said Githuku-Shongwe. Strides in education In terms of education, more women are graduating from higher education institutions

and female graduates overall have increased significantly.

While a 2017 Study by the University of Stellenbosch showed that 61 percent of Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women,

which presents an opportunity for graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds to break the cycle of poverty in their families,

 there is still a trend that sees women opting for less lucrative fields and avoiding science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

This is mainly because they do not have role models in these fields and are discouraged from pursuing ‘difficult’ subjects like mathematics.

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