Editorial comment – Empowering our women and girls

The wellbeing of women and girls and their safety during a crisis is important according to UNFPA. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA. FILE

IT IS interesting to note that about $20million has been invested by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to boost education for women and girls in the Pacific.

ADB chief thematic officer Chiara Bronchi highlighted this while speaking during a panel discussion on opportunities and challenges for young women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific.

The comment was made during the ADB annual meeting in Nadi this week.

“We have a project which is linked to higher education in the Pacific, it’s about $20 million and some components of this project is really targeted to women and in particular, to increase young women and girls’ participation in learning information and communications technology (ICT),” she said.

There were plans, for instance, to bring at least 50 per cent of girls in the Solomons, she said, into these courses to use ICT more regularly up to 2020.

“We are also testing innovative approaches by piloting programs to really encourage women to participate as leaders in the economic communities and therefore we are focusing in Tonga and we are trying to replicate this in Fiji,” she said.

The revelation will no doubt raise expectations, and should empower our women and girls.

There obviously are factors that have held back many of our women from realising their hopes and aspirations.

There may be issues in the labour market, gender discrimination, education perhaps, and access to financial resources.

We have a challenge to remove these.

Understandably some of these constraints are deeply rooted in society.

They are entrenched in the way we think and do things to a large extent.

To make a difference means including a change in mindset at the earliest stage.

That may be at home, in our schools, and communities for instance.

It starts with us all appreciating the need to empower our women and girls.

There is a need to challenge and dismantle lines of thought that are restrictive for the development of our women.

Empowerment though demands participation of our women and girls.

There are many role models in various levels of society for our young women to look up to and emulate.

We have successful businesswomen, lawyers, and politicians to name a few.

They stretch through many spheres of life in our nation, holding positions of responsibility.

Such a revelation can only be positive for us as a nation.

The ADB’s focus is certainly encouraging and will certainly assist in the bigger picture of empowering our women and girls.

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