first_img Sharing is caring! 34 Views   no discussions NewsPoliticsRegional From barefoot to PM…says Kamla in plea for more women’s education by: – March 15, 2011 Tweet Sharecenter_img Share Share Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told a gathering of Commonwealth parliamentarians and other dignitaries that she went from being a “barefooted little girl” to become Trinidad and Tobago’s first female Prime Minister after she discovered she could study her way out of poverty. “My own small story of village girl to Prime Minister is simply a demonstration of what can occur when even some opportunities and a better education are provided to girls and women,” she told a parliamentary conference at the House of Commons in London yesterday.The theme of the conference was “Educating Women, Transforming Society”. The Prime Minister told the gathering that the most transformative intervention that could be made in any society was to educate women. “So the educational disadvantage that so many Commonwealth women still experience is a real barrier to social and economic progress in all our countries,” she said. She pointed out the world should have achieved educational equality for women by 2006. However, she added, in primary education alone, there was still a five per cent gender gap which doubled to ten per cent in the worst areas of West Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa. Across the Commonwealth, Persad-Bissessar said, there were 16 million girls out of school.She added: “We are told that real equality will ‘nearly’ have been achieved by 2015. But being ‘nearly equal’ was not good enough in 2005, and it certainly is not good enough for 2015.” Persad-Bissessar called for collective action to make sure Commonwealth women got equal access to education. She added: “On the demand side, we need to overcome the discrimination that leads to boys getting priority access to education.  This problem is more acute the higher up the educational ladder you go. “When resources are scarce, in some communities boys still get preference while girls may be expected to marry young or become carers. We need to incentivise school attendance for girls.“On the supply side, we need enough places for girls, with secure schools, proper water and sanitation. “In some countries primary school teachers are overwhelmingly women but in other places that is not the case and we need enough women teachers, especially in rural areas, and flexible education for girls with caring responsibilities.” She added: “We need to reform the curriculum and ensure that women have access to all subjects, including, at an early age and before the gender stereotypes have become set, access to science and sport.” She also recommended introduction of sound policies and programmes, early and continuing education and more concrete effort to stem the tide of boys’ under-achievement and early dropout rates.Persad-Bissessar said in politics in the Commonwealth, only Rwanda has achieved gender equality in Parliament. She added: “And out of 54 countries in the Commonwealth, only three have governments headed by women: Julia Gillard, of Australia, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, of Bangladesh, and myself. “The lack of a critical mass of women parliamentarians and heads of government is important and has huge implications for ensuring that legislation and policies are in place to promote the interests of women and men. “These are tested avenues for ensuring equal access to education for all that is designed to meet their needs. “There is a dire need to hear women’s voices where policies are made and resources allocated.”Source: Guardian Media Newslast_img

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