Girls’ education priority to combat poverty, boost development’

The Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has said facilitating access to education for women and girls is vital to lifting millions out of poverty.

Speaking Thursday at her first news briefing at the UN headquarters in New York since taking office in August, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said education for women and girls should be a priority for governments and international organisations to advance development.

The new UN women chief, who is from South Africa, was appointed to the position in July.

‘Education is one of the founding services that all women and girls need to access in order for us to make a difference,’ she said, noting that ‘education is the foundation for everything we need to do to succeed.

‘This issue will feature prominently in the entity’s agenda as part of a push to accelerate the achievement of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).’

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said one of the MDGs targets is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, would be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

The UN official, who focused on several of her priorities for UN Women, said it is not only crucial to facilitate access to education for girls but also to reduce the number of girls who drop out of school.

She also said another key priority would be ensuring women’s reproductive health rights, adding that addressing education, reproductive health and rights, and economic
empowerment were essential building blocks towards women’s emancipation.

‘We see the work of UN Women not just as service to women because the positive impacts we can make on women has far reaching impacts on humanity as a whole,’ Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

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