Whether the granting of free education was a political bait or not is perhaps not relevant because it is an undeniable fact that we all benefited from it. It has certainly had “unintended benefits” for women. But what’s the point of us girls having such education when there is no job and no income! Can we speak of women’s emancipation when there is no financial autonomy?
Despite the fact that girls are outperforming boys at almost all levels, we find that the rate of unemployment is much higher among females than males. For instance, for the second quarter of 2012 according to the CSO, out of 48,900 unemployed,28,800(59%) of them were females as compared to only 20,100(41%) who were males. In contrast, the pass rate among female has been higher. At the HSC level, girls have been more successful than boys with a pass rate of 82.3% compared to 75.3% among males. So, how do we explain this sharp rise of unemployment among females despite the fact that they excel in their studies and some are even choosing fields which are traditionally regarded as male?
The case of Miss M (my friend-an engineering graduate) is one of many young females who find themselves being discriminated against. Miss M, aged 24 was ruled out as a candidate during an interview as engineer at a prestigious company, and this despite the fact that she had the necessary qualifications and met all the criteria required for the job. I wonder how many more female engineers suffer this same fate! It would be good to do a tracer study of the women engineers in Mauritius since anectodal evidence shows that many of them end up doing jobs not commensurate with their qualifications.
It is high time that policy makers do something to tackle the growing female unemployment. Else the future of women in this country is doomed! We may find ways and means to encourage girls to enter traditionally male fields but changing the mindset of the employer remains a major hurdle. Will the Equal Opportunities Commission be able to address such problems and contribute to the true emancipation of women is a question that I am tempted to ask?