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Minister Denounces Male-female Income Disparity

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 12 March 2001

Port-louis, Mauritius - The Mauritian minister of women's rights and family welfare, Arianne Navarre-Marie has denounced the feminisation of poverty arising from women's unequal access to economic opportunities.

She was addressing during the Weekend College going students at the Octave Wiehe auditorium at Le Réduit, 10 km south of Port-Louis, at a function marking the International Women's Day.

Navarre-Marie said increasing poverty among women was linked to their unequal situation in the labour market, their treatment under social welfare systems, their status and power in the family.

According to the minister, there are disparities between men and women's income due to women's concentration in low skilled jobs, lack of bargaining power and lack of support system of working women.

She also said for too long women have not had access to bank credits, obliging them to operate only in the informal sector without any protection.

Navarre-Marie indicated that official figures show that 59 percent of Mauritian women operated in the manufacturing sector.

"Men's monthly mean income reaches 5000 rupees while that of women turns around 2980 rupees only. They are also victims of underpayment, long and tedious hours of work, lack of shelter and security, little access to land and other poverty as well as domestic violence and abuse," she said.

Navarre-Marie mentioned a report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) according to which it exists in Mauritius a big disparity in unemployment between men and women - 6 percent for men in 1999 and 13 percent for women.

This is why, she added, that the government is trying to mobilise the population to help reduce poverty.

"We have identified projects aiming at alleviating poverty and improving We have to guarantee equality in law as well as in practice," the minister said.