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Empower Women to Help Children

Children whose mothers have no formal education are three times more likely to experience severe malnutrition deprivation than children who mothers have secondary level education or higher

Maputo, 8 March 2007 – Eliminating gender discrimination has a profound and positive impact on the survival and well-being of children, says UNICEF on the occasion of International Women’s Day today.

UNICEF’s report The State of the World’s Children 2007, published last December, demonstrates that gender equality produces a “double dividend” – it benefits both women and children and is pivotal to the health and development of families, communities and nations.

“Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand-in-hand,” said UNICEF Representative Leila Pakkala. “Gender equality is not only morally right; it is the key to human progress and sustainable development.”

Despite progress in women’s status in recent decades, the lives of millions of girls and women around the world are overshadowed by discrimination, disempowerment and poverty. Girls and women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and women in most places earn less than men for equal work. Millions of women throughout the world are subject to physical and sexual violence, with little recourse to justice.

The report Childhood Poverty in Mozambique, launched at the end of last year, argues that disparities related to gender affect women and girls in many aspects of their lives in Mozambique:

  • Female households – which represent a third of all households in Mozambique – are poorer than families headed by men.
  • Children whose mothers have no formal education are three times more likely to experience severe nutrition deprivation than children whose mothers have secondary level education or higher – Twenty five per cent and seven per cent respectively.
  • About 9 per cent of women suffer from malnutrition. The most critical factor affecting women’s nutrition is their workload – women, especially in rural areas, consistently work long, hard hours and their energy intake is not commensurate with their work output.
  • Out of 1.6 million Mozambican estimated to live with HIV or AIDS, 58 per cent are woman and 5 per cent are children under five.
  • The gender gap in rural in school attendance in rural areas is marked, with only 48 per cent of girls attending primary school compared to 57 per cent of boys.
  • Data from 2003 indicates that 18 per cent of girls aged 20-24 had been married before the age of 15 and 56 per cent before the age of 18.

Education levels among women throughout the world correlate with improved outcomes for child survival and development.

Achieving Millennium Development Goal Number 3 – promoting gender equality and empowering women – also contributes to achieving all the other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

For more information, please contact:

Thierry Delvigne-Jean, Communication, UNICEF Moçambique, Tel: (+258)  82 3121820;

Gabriel Pereira, Communication, UNICEF Moçambique,  Tel: (+258) 82 316 5390);





Related links

Overcoming fear to report domestic violence

Child Protection

Related publications

The State of the World's Children 2007

Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis (Summary)


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