Honourable Speaker and members

As we begin the 39 Anniversary of the Youth month, it is important that we focus on the critical challenges confronting young women.

Many young women remain targets for gender based violence. The recent UN, 2010 report, on violence against women in Africa indicates that the scourge of violence against women in Africa is still largely rampant, but hidden beneath cultural practices and beliefs. Amongst other reasons accountable for this situation are recorded as:

• The predominance of the system of patriarchy across the continent and our country is not immune;

• Violence against women is accepted as a cultural norm in many of our communities and is often condoned by the communities;

• The stigma attached to female victims has resulted in very low rates of reporting and some young women and in particular in the rural areas, do not report and or sometimes are turned away by authorities who see violence against young women as not important.

All government institutions and in law enforcement agencies and our judicial system, must give priority to violence against young women.

The World Health Organisation reports that the health of young women is affected by a plethora of factors, most of which revolve around lack of adequate health facilities and infrastructure.

We need to give extra focus on this matter as well during this 39th anniversary of the youth months with specific focus on young women.

Promoting gender equity and empowerment of young women will be of benefit to our economy and the society at large. However, we still face a stumbling block with regard to prioritising young women. The National Youth Agency must give the necessary attention on this area as it implements its programme during this month.

The majority of the unemployed young people are young women.

I thank you