By EDDIE OSIFELO
MORE women are having access to education, health and incomes in the country despite the existence of gender inequality in society.
Ministry of Women, Youthc Children and Family Affairs permanent secretary, Dr Cedrick Alependava stated this during the opening of the Gender Mainstreaming in the Agriculture sector and rural development three days workshop in Honiara yesterday.
Dr Alependava said progress has been realized with increase of girls’ enrollment in schools, improvement in overall health indicators for women and more women have access to incomes.
However, he said more efforts are needed by all to achieve equal opportunities and equal outcomes in all those areas.
“Despite SIG efforts with numerous campaigns of information pertaining to gender equality – women participating in leadership and decision making at senior levels is still low.
“In addition, incidence of violence against women and girls remain very high,” he added.
Dr Alependava said similarly, while there is recognition that gender mainstreaming is a strategy to advance gender equality in government, this has not been systematically implemented.
He said the issues that require full attention includes:
- Net enrolment rate at secondary schools is slightly low for both girls and boys, and women made up only 38 percent of the total estimated enrolment in tertiary education in 2012 (ADB 2015)
- According to the 2009 census – 62 percent of women and 64 percent of men aged 12 and older were in labour force, but only 26 percent of women were paid in work.
- Only 5 percent of senior public servants’ positions and 22 percent of mid-level positions are occupied by women (ADB 2015)
- Sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls not well protected (SIG 2009)
- Two out of three women between age 15-49 have experienced physical and or sexual abuse in their life time by an intimate partner (SIG 2009).
- There is a structural obstacle to women’s access to justice, which include women’s lack of awareness of their own rights, scare presence of justice systems beyond Honiara, and limited presence of female top levels of judicial system and law enforcement – last year we have a female judge and more female lawyers are beginning to come through from universities.
As part of the addressing these issues, MWYCFA and Ministry of Public Service have established a Gender Focal Point officers in Government Ministries.
Dr Alependava said they are to address gender equality as well as be a watch dog for any harassment and sexual abuse at work place.
He said but more importantly to elevate rights of women to be recognized in terms of levelling, salaries and positions, or no discrimination in work place. The workshop ends on Thursday