Women have always played central role throughout history and have always contributed to the stability, progress and long-term development of the globe. Studies have shown that when the economy and political structure of a society change, women take the lead in assisting the family adjust to new realities and challenges. Globally, women constitute 43 percent of the world’s agricultural workforce. In Africa, 80 percent of the agricultural production comes from small scale farmers most of whom are rural women. Women play the key role in decision-making about family meal planning and diet and often lead initiative with respect to child health and nutrition. Despite these important roles, women and girls continue to suffer several blockages in their empowerment.
For instance, Science and Technology education is estimated to constitute fully 90 per cent of all future jobs therefore some skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) will position one for the job market. Recent researches indicate that 58 million net new jobs will be in areas such as data analysis, software development and data visualization. Data from the UN’s agency for education, science and culture (UNESCO) however shows that less than a third of all female students choose STEM-related subjects in higher education, whilst just three per cent of women choose Information Communication Technology (ICT) subjects. This confirms the trend observed by the United Nations (UN) which shows that globally more girls are in school than it used to be but they are hugely under-represented in STEM subjects in many countries and they appear to lose interest in STEM subjects as they climb the academic ladder.
There are several barriers women still face in accessing health care across the globe. The Global Citizens, about 214 million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy but access to modern contraception and family planning services are not accessible. According to the Unite Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) report on the state of population in 2018, an estimated 21 per cent of women in sub-Sahara Africa want to avoid a pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. In addition about five million mothers and children still die each year from preventable causes. Even more alarmingly, over 500 million girls globally don’t have access to sanitary pad.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in their Health and Economic Growth report indicated that Women make up nearly 70% of the world’s 43 million health care workers but are mostly left behind when it comes to taking lead in health care delivery. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 report showed that women across the globe perform very important roles such as midwifery, nursing to providing home health aide but constitute only about 35% of leadership roles in the health care sector.
According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) over 200 million girls and women who are currently alive have undergone Female Genital Mutilation in 30 countries and approximately 650 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
Many of the world’s biggest problems may be going unsolved because too many women and girls are being discouraged from the sciences.
The participation of women and girls in science is very vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5 and 9 because since they constitute a significant proportion of the World’s population. Female education to correlate with high levels of development in most part of the world. Some results of female education are related to economic development. Educating girls transforms to a number of social benefits, including many related to women’s empowerment. This means that the world would be a better place if more concentration is given to women.
The way forward
Having considered some of the barriers above, it is very important to consider some recommendations in dealing with the numerous hurdles that barricade women from social, economic and institutional empowerment.
In moving forward Gender equality and equity principles should be enshrined in the upbringing of children by families and in all national policies and practices, and should be a central operating principle in state and non-state institutions.
The UNFPA evaluation report for 2018 urged countries to consider doing consistent reproductive rights “check-ups” to ascertain whether they are in line with the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This will inform budget allocations to the sector and give good feedback for the purpose of planning. The ICPD in 1994 agreed that human rights and women’s rights in particular, the right to make one’s own choices about reproduction are essential not only for individual well-being but also for the welfare of communities, economies, countries and the world. It is therefore important that Developing Countries invest in family planning programmes that aim to achieve zero unmet need for family planning services no later than 2030 to help attain the Sustainable Development Goal 3.
It also important that the critical role education plays is recognised in removing the barriers women face. Keeping girls safe from harm by securing their education in crisis-affected areas must be on the agenda of world leaders. Several researches have shown that educated girls are also better positioned to fight the effects of climate change and to broker peace.
Governments must upheld women’s right by instituting pragmatic actions that are in synergy with global proclamations such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Men should consciously be involved in empowering women, and helping to end all forms of gender-based violence.
I conclude this article with two quotes.
“When women are empowered and can claim their rights and access to land, leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations” Michelle Bachelet, Former President of Chile
“If you educate a girl you educate a whole nation” Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, Ghana
By: Ali Tanti Robert
Ali Tanti Robert is the Executive Director of Youth Alliance for Development, Ghana and an emerging Public Health Practitioner.&
Rosemary Okla (Mrs.)
Rosemary Okla is a Geological Engineer at the Ghana Geological Survey Authority and a Part -Time Lecturer