Empower Women to Help Children
Gender Equality Produces a ‘Double Dividend’ that Benefits Both Women and Children, UNICEF Reports
Dushanbe, 5 March 2007 – Eliminating gender discrimination and empowering women will have a profound and positive impact on the survival and well-being of children, according to a new UNICEF report issued on UNICEF’s 60th anniversary.
Gender equality produces the “double dividend” of benefiting both women and children and is pivotal to the health and development of families, communities and nations, according to The State of the World’s Children 2007.
“Gender equality and the well-being of children are inextricably linked,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “When women are empowered to lead full and productive lives, children and families prosper.”
According to the report, women’s influence in key decisions improves the lives of women and has a positive effect on child well-being and development.
Despite progress in women’s status in recent decades, the lives of millions of girls and women 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. As a result of discrimination, girls are less likely to attend school; nearly one out of every five girls who enroll in primary school in developing countries does not complete a primary education. Education levels among women, says the report, correlate with improved outcomes for child survival and development.
“If we care about the health and well-being of children today and into the future, we must work now to ensure that women and girls have equal opportunities to be educated, to participate in government, to achieve economic self-sufficiency and to be protected from violence and discrimination,” Veneman said.
Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand. Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development.
- In Tajikistan, there is a significant difference in child mortality rates in terms of educational leveles and wealth. Rates are almost five times higher in children born to mothers with little education. (MICS 2006)
Gender equality produces a double dividend: It benefits both women and children. Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. Gender equality will not only empower women to overcome poverty and live full and productive lives, but will better the lives of children, families and countries as well.
- In Tajikistan, women hold deputy-chair positions in 45 of the total 64 local administrations and only five women head the administrations of cities and regions. ((All statistics below derived from: UN Millennium Project 2005. Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women. Task Force on Education and Gender Equality)
Women’s equal rights and influence in the key decisions that shape their lives and those of children must be enhanced in three distinct arenas: the household, the workplace and the political sphere. A change for the better in any one of these realms influences women’s equality in the others, and has a profound and positive impact on child’s well-being and development.
Household decisions on daily expenditure have a decisive impact on children’s well-being, education and, particularly, their health.
- In Tajikistan, household decision-making favours boys’ education over girls’. Consequently, 20 per cent of school-aged girls are missing school. (All statistics below derived from: UN Millennium Project 2005. Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women. Task Force on Education and Gender Equality)
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For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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