Education: Empowering Africa’s Women

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“Africa’s development as a continent cannot be separated from the development and education of Africa's women,� South Africa's Deputy President said.

[Africa News Update]

The first African Union (AU) Conference of African Women in Science and Technology ended in South Africa with calls for the establishment of more African Women Universities to boost female empowerment.

This high profile conference attracted top women scientists and academics from across the continent. The talks sought to find ways of how best women in Africa can actively participate in the science and technology. Participants believed universities for women will help raise the standards of teaching and learning. Asian countries were cited as success stories; studies there have shown that girls who come out of those institutions have been able to excel.

“We need to change the structural obstacles, which continue to hinder the development of science and technology for the benefit of the poor. We need to overcome barriers that continue to exclude girl children and women from the study of science and technology,” said South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the conference.

She said it was high time that women in Africa pushed for the "demystifying" of mathematics, science and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The study of science and technology, she said should not be viewed as the domain of “extraordinary people” and men, but for women as well. “If we wish to change this perception we need to firstly communicate in ways which makes these subjects attractive,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

“In this way we can create a popular understanding of science, mathematics and ICT, which will not only attract students, but will also, lead to more people understanding how these subjects work and can work in the interest of everyone.”

United Nations statistics show that female researchers constitute only 29% of the totals in Africa. On a more encouraging note, Mlambo-Ngcuka added that there is a growing understanding in Africa that women's education, equality and empowerment are vital to ensuring an integrated, developed, prosperous and peaceful continent. “Africa’s development as a continent cannot be separated from the development and education of Africa's women,” she said.

She is South Africa’s first female Deputy President.

Tsiko is The Black Star News’s Southern Africa correspondent based in Harare.


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