Role of Women
As in other industrializing countries, the role of women is changing rapidly. A major force for change has been the rapid influx of women into the many jobs created in the 1980s in the export processing zones (EPZs). Although low-paying for the most part, the jobs allow women formerly confined to the roles of mother and wife to gain a certain degree of personal and social freedom. One woman, in a 1993 National Geographic article, said:
For a Mauritian woman, to work is to be free. Before, a girl could not leave home until her parents found a husband for her, and then she moved into her husband's family's home and spent the rest of her life having babies. I met my husband at work, and it was my decision to marry him. Now we live in our own house.
The government has taken measures to promote equality of the sexes by repealing discriminatory laws dealing with inheritance and emigration. In 1989 the government appointed equal opportunity officers in the principal ministries to deal with women's issues. Reports by the Ministry of Women's Rights and Family Welfare and others indicate, however, that violence against women is prevalent. The increased employment of women has created the need for more child-care services and for more laborsaving devices in the home.
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