The South African Medical Association (Sama) has highlighted the progress made with introducing young women to the field of medicine during Women’s Month.
Sama chairperson Dr Mzukisi Grootboom said: “More girls than ever are joining the ranks of medical professionals, and are health-care workers in all sectors. This is a pleasing development in our country, and we urge all other professions to do the same to empower young girls.
"The message we must spread is that girl children are capable of doing anything they want; we are all obliged to create an enabling environment for them to achieve their dreams.”
Provincial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said there had been a year-on-year increase in the number of female doctors working at the department’s health facilities.
In 2015 there were 1473 female doctors. In 2016, there were 1501, and this year, the department has recorded 1531 female doctors working at its facilities.
Grootboom said education of women was vital to deal with social problems in South Africa.
Data from numerous studies show education is a driving force in improving the lives of all people, but especially those of women and their children.
“Educating women is of benefit to everyone in the country, on every level. As professionals, we therefore need to take on the responsibility of creating many opportunities for the girl child to not only become educated, but to become part of the greater professional landscape in our country,” Grootboom said.
He added that empowering girl children had positive effects in other areas too.
He said statistics showed the number of women who agreed that a husband can beat his wife for refusing to have sex dropped dramatically the more educated a woman was.
“This is but one of many examples which prove educating women is vital to improving society.
‘‘But we cannot simply pay lip service to this notion of uplifting and educating women every August; it is something we need to strive for every day of every year.
"And we need everyone in society to pull in the same direction, because only then will we make significant changes,” Grootboom said.