Africa Slow in Electing Female Heads of State – Pres Zuma

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma says the African continent must pick up the pace in advancing women to Head of State positions.
“While the continent is also full of women ministers and parliamentarians, the continent is moving a bit slowly when it comes to electing female Heads of State and government compared to other regions in the world,” President Zuma said on Sunday.
He was speaking at the Africa for Africa Women’s Conference in Port Elizabeth as part of celebrating International Women’s Day.
Themed ‘Locating Women at the Centre of the Global Economy for Sustainable Development – Make it happen’, the conference sought to create a vibrant and dynamic network of women leaders and entrepreneurs to actively champion the cause of women emancipation.
President Zuma implored African institutions, such as the African Union, to champion transformation that will advance women and improve the quality of life.
“We should build an Africa where all women, including women in rural areas, will be empowered in all spheres – especially economic – to own and inherit property or businesses and where they have full access to financial services and all productive assets.”
The President also called for the advancement of women’s participation in the economy.
“You live in a continent that is growing and which should provide opportunities for all, including women workers and those residing in rural areas.”
The conference took place against the backdrop of the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, starting today, where South Africa is expected to present a country report on the strides made in advancing women issues in the last 20 years.
Looking at the country’s own progress, the President said it had outdone itself in implementing the Millennium Development Goals as well as facilitating universal access to primary education, a target which South Africa reached before the 2015 deadline.
“What is more impressive with the achievement of this target is that the proportion of girls attending primary, secondary and tertiary education has improved significantly.
“The attainment of the MDG target on education is significant for a number of reasons. Education is central to development and can serve as a catalyst to address gender disparities. Moreover, education is the primary vehicle by which vulnerable children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate meaningfully in the economy.”
He said government will continue to invest in the education of women and girls. By so doing, they are investing in the development of the nation as a whole.
Targets include encouraging the girl child to study in areas which have been predominately boys’ areas such as mathematics, science and technology.
Already government has put in place programmes such as the Mathematics and Science Camps for Girls as well as Technology for Women in Business and UNICEF’s Global Girls Education Programme.