PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has launched a US$65 million girls and women’s empowerment project that will support 89,000 women and girls with education and business financial empowerment.
The project known as Girls Education and Women Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) aims to increase access to livelihood support for poor rural women and access to secondary school education for poor rural girls in 51 districts.
The project is funded by the World Bank.At the launch yesterday in Lusaka, President Lungu said it was indisputable that education and financial empowerment was important for every citizen in order to reduce poverty.
Mr Lungu said Government had made strides to reduce poverty by building roads and hospitals as well as schools.
Mr Lungu said that it was however, sad to note that most of the rural people especially girls and young women have not substantially benefited from the country’s growth due to lack of adequate skills.
He was speaking in a statement read on his behalf by Gender minister Nkandu Luo.“Girls and women face more challenges than their male counterparts. For girls economic constraints, forced and early marriages and teen pregnancy seem to be the reason for dropping out of school,” he said.
Mr Lungu said that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has fought to ensure that women and girls lives were enhanced through the provision of social needs and formulating good gender policies saying that the party was well positioned to ensure women empowerment.
Government has also sourced the $65 million from the World Bank for the GEWEL project in the hope to remove impediments that restrain women from progressing.
Mr Lungu said he was grateful to the World Bank for its support.
World Bank country representative Ina Ruthenberg said the project launch was a milestone in the promotion of women’s lives.Ms Rutheberg said in five years time, Zambia would have built a stronger and more cohesive system of social protection in the country.
“The GEWEL project is unique in that it brings together collaboration between three Government ministries to tackle a common problem.The ministries of Gender, Community and General Education,” she said.
The project would provide 14,000 girls with secondary school bursaries and help 75,000 with funding and training for businesses.