TASHKENT -- The US Embassy in Tashkent applauded Uzbekistan Friday (March 8) for its efforts at closing the gender gap ahead of International Women's Day, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Deborah Robinson said in a statement Thursday (March 7).
"Uzbekistan should be applauded for eliminating the gender gap in primary and secondary education," she said. "Women and girls in Uzbekistan enjoy equal access to education."
In 2017, 50% of the primary school population and 54% of secondary school students were girls, according to Robinson.
Official data also showed a growing number of female students in higher education institutions. That figure reached 40% of the national total last year, compared to 36% in 2011.
"The female literacy rate in Uzbekistan is 99.98%, one of the highest rates in the world. Uzbekistan should be proud of these achievements," she said.
However, Uzbekistan still has a gender gap in the workplace, Robinson noted.
In 2017, only 38.5% of women were employed in the formal sector of the economy, according to the Uzbek government. Meanwhile, the United Nations has found that 35% of Uzbek women with secondary education work, while 68% of women with higher education have jobs.
"Greater access to higher education is key for enhancing employment among women," said Robinson. "More women in the workforce would mean more money for families and greater economic growth for the country".
She also called for more women in politics and the government.
"Some of the most articulate and compelling champions of social and labour reform are women, such as Deputy Prime Minister Tanzila Narbayeva and Senator Svetlana Artykova -- yet only 16% of seats in parliament and 5% of ministerial positions are held by women," she said.
"Uzbekistan has done a commendable job in beginning the process, but as we acknowledge this important day, we should also recognise that women in Uzbekistan are ready for the next phase in achieving gender equality," Robinson concluded.