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Right to education to achieve development

The UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay joined a group of African research scholars in Durban where the role of women of science in development was discussed.

Navi Pillay with the SANPAD Women in Research Conference secretaria © Raylene Captain-HasthibeerThe conference was organised by the South Africa Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD). The NGO seeks to bring together a community of gender and women research scholars to critically reflect on the emergence of women in research.

In her keynote speech, Navi Pillay highlighted the centrality of the right to education to achieve gender equality. She also clarified how obstacles to access education exacerbates discrimination against women and girls, and undermines their capacity to counter mutually reinforcing factors of disempowerment.

“Women’s exclusion from education and participation underpins and facilitates other problems they face, such as discriminatory patterns in ownership and exploitation of land, dispossession and forced eviction, and inequality in relation to the right to inheritance”, Pillay said. “United Nations studies indicate that women produce half of the world’s food, and their work accounts for two-thirds of the world’s working hours. However, they earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than one percent of property worldwide.”

“Some analysts have indicated that if just 10 percent more girls obtained a secondary education, their country’s economy could be expected to grow by three percent. When an educated girl earns an income, she reinvests 90 percent of it in her family”, the High Commissioner added. “On the other hand, boys invest 35 percent of their income in their families. In short, the absence of women’s equality undermines their fundamental human rights, and also hampers societal development and economic growth.”

27 October 2010