Thursday, September 17, 2009

US & ZA politicians discuss economics, health, women's status

The second of a two-part exchange on economics, business, education, health care, politics and the status of women between legislators from the U.S. and South Africa is described in the Dallas Morning News by Texas State Representative Helen Giddings.

She notes that, despite all of South Africa's impressive economic activity, including massive preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in Cape Town, critical work remains in terms of the status of women and public health:
Yet South African women lag far behind American women in business and professional accomplishment and in controlling personal business affairs. Actually, the lack of an educated, skilled workforce is causing many jobs to go unfilled. South Africa's decision years ago to properly educate only 30 percent of its population – offering the other 70 percent a much inferior education or no education at all – has simply caught up with it.
Giddings adds:
Domestic and sexual violence are huge issues for South African women, with few resources and laws to protect them. But by far, the most critical issue facing the country is HIV/AIDS, with more than 5 million reported cases in a country of roughly 48 million people. The most menacing statistic is that only 700,000 are on anti-retroviral drugs. This is grossly inadequate for a crisis of this magnitude. The real balance sheet for South Africa is that the average life expectancy is only 52 years.

In all, it is a thoughtful piece that speaks to the promise and benefit for all involved of developing closer economic and political ties between the U.S. and South Africa. See for yourself.

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