Education Key to Empowering Indonesian Women: UNICEF

JAKARTA ~ Giving Indonesian women and girls greater access to higher education will help them avoid falling prey to human traffickers and benefit their children, the UN Children’s Fund said in a report this week.

Poverty, lack of educational and economic opportunities as well as the low status of women make women and girls vulnerable, UNICEF representative Gianfranco Rotigliano said in a statement.

“This feeds back into access to education. If we can ensure that children, especially girls, attend schools, they will later be better able to support themselves and become less vulnerable to traffickers and exploiters,” he said.

UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children Report 2007 said Indonesia also needed to improve health services for pregnant women.

Indonesia’s maternal mortality rate of 307 per 100,000 live births is one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The corresponding reported figure for the United States is eight.

UNICEF estimates 20,000 Indonesian women die every year due to pregnancy complications.

Globally, the report notes that “despite progress in women’s status in recent decades, the lives of millions of girls and women are overshadowed by discrimination, disempowerment and poverty.”

According to the report, higher education levels among women correlate with improved outcomes for child survival and development.

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