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Bigger Say for Mothers Better for Children: UNICEF Report
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Increased participation by women in important family decisions ensures better nutrition and education for children, says Yinyin Nwe, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative to China.


"A woman's empowerment within the household increases the likelihood that her children, particularly girls, will attend school," said Nwe.


Only slightly more than half of women participate in important family decisions in 10 out of 30 countries surveyed, according to the UNICEF report entitled The State of the World's Children 2007.


The report cites surveys by the International Food Policy Research Institute, a global research organization on hunger and nutrition, saying that when women have low status and are denied a voice in household decisions their children are more likely to be undernourished.


"If men and women had equal influence in decision-making, the incidence of underweight children under three years old in South Asia could fall by up to 13 percent," the report says.


In China 60 to 70 percent of women participate in important family decisions. This fact was noted by Nwe as showing China's general improvement in equality.


The report examined other gender equality issues in China. It showed in 2005 that 99 percent of both boys and girls attended elementary school while the ratio was 89-85 in favor of boys in developing countries as a whole.


According to Nwe better education of girls helped reduce early marriages and the starting of families. About 140,000 girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in China each year accounting for less than one percent of the world total.


(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2006)

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