SUDAN WATCH: Brown: Let women lead Africa out of poverty

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Brown: Let women lead Africa out of poverty

Last summer, Desmond Tutu said women should rule the world because men have made a mess of it. And media mogul Ted Turner said women should rule the world for 100 years.

Today, a report in the Sunday Times on Gordon Brown's week-long tour of Africa quotes him yesterday as saying that enhancing the role of women was the key to lifting the continent out of poverty. Excerpt from the report:

The chancellor, on a visit to the Maragra sugar mill and plantation in Mozambique, was accompanied by Luisa Diogo, one of Africa's few prominent female politicians. Diogo is both prime minister and finance minister of Mozambique. Yesterday, alongside Diogo, he said that the main lesson he had learnt on his trip was that action to reduce poverty in Africa had to focus on women.

"Women are the biggest victims of the African poverty I have seen: most likely to suffer from HIV/Aids, most likely to be denied schooling and constituting 70% of the poor," Brown said. "But I have also met younger women pushing for reform, leading not just in calling for changes in health provision, secondary schooling and tackling Aids, but leading in microcredit, small business and rural development."

"I believe it is essential that women are the future of Africa," he said.
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Note: Treasury officials pointed out the huge problems of gender inequality in Africa. Women carry out 80% of the agricultural work but own just 1% of farmland. Only 4% of women have title to land or property. Women also suffer educational disadvantages, with girls usually leaving school earlier than boys, often to work the land. Yet figures show that every extra year spent at school reduces the mortality of their subsequent children by 8%.

Brown has been accompanied by four senior women advisers on his African trip: Shriti Vadera, one of his special advisers, and three officials from the Treasury and the Department for International Development.


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