Dear editor,

Thanks for the medium to share one with our leaders on the above subject.

Several of the United Nation Millennium development goals (MDGs) deal with the situation of women. The target of goal 3 is the elimination of gender disparity. Goal 4 seeks to reduce child mortality, and goal 5 aims to improve the health of mothers. But the empowerment of women and strengthening of their position in society is the aim of the other MDGs as well. Women play a crucial role in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger (MGs1). Girls and women lag far behind boys and men in progress towards achieving universal basic education (MDG2). No progress at all can be made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other endemic diseases (MDG6), unless women are included. And without the participation of women, it will be impossible to ensure environmental sustainability (MDG7).

Women normally have to work harder than men, especially in south pacific island countries, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They maintain traditional vegetable gardens, raise domestic animals, and do farming. They are responsible for child rearing, feeding their families, doing domestic chores, collecting the firewood, and fetching the water. They supervise the education of their children and nurse them back to their health when they get sick. They guarantee domestic stability; taking on any work they can to get secure the family income, more often than not in the formal sector and without the benefit of social security. They do sewing, cooking, hairdressing or house cleaning, produce and market processed agricultural products and handicrafts. More and more they are finding work in clerical or secretarial occupations or in service sector.

But despite the important role they play for family, society and the economy, in all essential areas of life women are generally at a significant disadvantage as compared with men, whether in terms of education, income, partner choice, inheritance laws, property rights, decision making process, community organisation, or access to leadership position in education, business or politics. The goal of gender equality is far from being achieved both in the public mind as well as in reality.

May I appeal to all the leaders of in the country to recognise the potential of women in our societies and the country as a whole. Without the input of women in our planning and decision making we are getting nowhere.