Freetown, Sierra Leone (UNDP) :
The best female football player in the world, Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil will visit Sierra Leone from 29th to 31st August 2011 in her capacity as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to highlight the country’s efforts in promoting women’s empowerment. “UNDP works around the world making a positive difference in people’s lives, and I am proud to add my personal commitment to its work,” said Marta, who has won the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year title a historic five times. Gender inequality is still rife in Sierra Leone, with women facing many forms of discrimination. Females account for 37 per cent of secondary school and only 19 per cent of attendances at university. Illiteracy among women (73 percent), coupled with widespread traditional beliefs that women are not capable, hinder their chances to be elected into decision making positions at national and local levels. While in the country, Marta will participate in a forum with young women and women’s solidarity and advocacy groups who are advocating for Parliament to enact laws that will ensure 30% quota for women in all levels of political decision making. She will also visit a UNDP-supported project and meet with leading women in football, both past and present. Gender equality and women’s rights are a priority in the UN Programmes as well as one of the eight internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aiming to eradicate extreme poverty globally. “Women’s full participation in leadership and decision making is critical for the consolidation of peace and security, as well as meaningful overall development in Sierra Leone,” said UNDP Country Director, Mia Seppo. “Marta’s visit will showcase some of the good work that has been done towards achieving these goals.” On the last day of her visit Marta will participate in a match between two football clubs – Diamond Queens of Kono and Western Area (Freetown). The Queens will be captained by Marta, while Musu Pele of Sierra Leone will lead Western Area.
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