Welcome to Gender Wire. It's a newsletter for, and about, the people and ideas pushing gender equality in education in Asia and the Pacific forward.
September 8 marked International Literacy Day. How did UNESCO Bangkok celebrate? By playing soccer, of course! Our mixed-sex UNESCO UNITED team scored a 7-nil victory (3 goals by our female players) in a friendly game with the Thai MoE ONIE team in front of thousands of cheering spectators.
In New-Delhi, the celebration included an International Conference on Women’s Literacy for Inclusive and Sustainable Development held on 8-10 September, organized by UNESCO’s E9 Initiative.
Unfortunately, the progress on women’s literacy in our region does not enjoy such impetus. More than 796 million of the world’s adults, one in five adults, do not know how to read or write. Two-thirds of these are women. More than half of the 412 million illiterate adults worldwide live in South Asia, where gender disparity is greatest. Here, 73 percent of all men but only 51 percent of women have the ability to read and write.
Looking at youth, the latest statistics show that globally, 131 million lack basic reading and writing skills. Among this group, 61 percent are female. Sixty-six million of them are in South Asia. Nevertheless, progress is being made and gender disparities are less pronounced amongst the youth in comparison to adults. East and Southeast Asia have reached gender parity, while South Asia (GPI 0.86) is also making progress. Take a look at this UIS Fact Sheet for more info.
Did you make any plans to commemorate World Teachers’ Day for Gender Equality (5 October)? We would love to hear about it. An excellent way to take part is to join UNESCO’s e-discussion. The forum offers an opportunity to express your opinion on both gender distribution in the teaching profession, and also the role of teachers in promoting gender equality in education and society. Sign up here: http://www.worldteachersday.org. Discussion is open until 23 September.
Come October, please also check out the UNESCO Bangkok website where you’ll find cool e-cards, celebrating teachers and gender equality, which you can send to your teachers and friends.
Paalam, Lehitraot, Au revoir and Hooroo!
Elinor, Idit, Adrien and Fuchsia
On behalf of the APPEAL Gender Team
WHAT'S GOING ON?
Open Forum: Gender – Getting to Equal, World Bank Live online debate, join the conversation now until 21 Sept. 2011
Thailand Launch of ‘Because I am a Girl 2011’ Plan International Campaign, Bangkok, 23 Sept. 2011. This year’s theme is "So What About Boys?" Opening speech by PM Y. Shinawatra.
Gender Equality in Education: Looking Beyond Parity, UNESCO, Paris, 3-4 Oct. 2011
World Teachers' Day 2011, This year’s theme: Teachers for Gender Equality, 5 Oct. 2011
Regional Conference on Women and Literacy, ASPBAE, Chiang Mai, 17-19 Oct. 2011. For more information, please contact here.
Millennia2015, An Action Plan for Women's Empowerment, UNESCO and Destree Institute, Paris, 21-22 Nov. 2011
Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on Sexuality Education and Gender /UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF
Bangladesh: Keep the Girls in School - Khadija’s Story /Charity: Water
10x10: Educate a Girl. Change the World /Care
Asia's Top Women Keep It In The Family - For Now
Thailand's first female prime minister joined a long list of Asian women leaders whose power stem from family ties, with analysts saying the trend is a mixed blessing for equality.
Australia: First Ambassador for Women and Girls Named
PM Gillard says the Ambassador will ensure the needs of women and girls are represented in Australia's aid program and in foreign policy more broadly. The Ambassdor's focus will be on the Asia-Pacific region.
Cambodia: Bicycles Bridge Girls’ Access to Education
Deep-rooted gender biases, extreme poverty, the family's need for extra income, and the cost of books and materials are a few reasons why Cambodian girls work instead of going to school. There are seemingly countless reasons for gaps in education access in the developing world. Transportation is often the single largest gap and - thankfully - one of the simplest to fill.
Korea: Gender Equality Remains Low
While Korea ranks third among OECD countries in proportion of women with university education, it ranks seventh-lowest for women's employment rate and has the largest disparity between average salaries of men and women.
South Asia: UN-backed Scheme Seeks to Facilitate Access to Technology
Three million users, primarily women in rural communities, stand to get access to network applications that provide information about employment opportunities, promote access to mobile payment systems or banking services, and help keep users up-to-date on a variety of health and market topics.
Pakistan: Gender Mainstreaming Now a Priority in Labour Department
Pakistani Labour Department establishes a Gender Unit and nominates a Gender Focal Point to mainstream gender in the labour sector.
Pakistan: Terror Attacks on Girls’ Schools Aimed at Sabotaging Girls’ Education
Two government girls’ schools were blown up in Mardan and Swabi district within two weeks.
Afghanistan: Community-Based Schools Enhance Education Prospects for Girls
Back on Track Program in Afghanistan seeks to use education in conflict- or crisis-affected countries to help improve the socio-political and economic situation.
China: New Campaign Targets Gender Ratio Imbalance
2010 National Census shows gender ratio imbalance at birth of 118.6 males per 100 females, with some remote provinces having ratios of 150 males per 100 females, a lot higher than the UN-set standard of 102 to 107. If this trend continues, China may have 30 million more men aged 20-45 than women by year 2020.
Nepal: 81% of Rural Women Face Domestic Violence
An Asia Foundation report says that Nepalese women are vulnerable to both domestic and public violence, such as rape, sexual abuse in the workplace, and human trafficking. Harmful traditional practices such as dowry-related violence can also be life threatening.
Higher Education and Expectations
Globally, women’s enrollment in tertiary education has increased at a much faster rate than men's, now outnumbering them. However, in East and South Asia, higher education enrollment remains at less than half the rates achieved in Europe and North America, and well below other developing regions such as Latin America.
Asia-Pacific Women Make Big Gains on Forbes 'Most Powerful' List
The 2011 list of 100 female leaders features 17 women from Asia-Pacific, up from 8 in 2010 and 12 in 2009.
Top 20 Women in Asian Finance
FinanceAsia Magazine has released its top 20 list of high-powered women in Asian finance, including Mignonne Cheng (BNP Paribas), Wei Sun Christianson (Morgan Stanley), Rowena Chu (Deutsche Bank), Kalpana Desai (Macquarie Capital), and Anita Fung (HSBC).
Asian Women Reject Marriage as Men Don't Partake in Domestic Workload Equally
Marriage age increase is particularly marked in Asia, and many Asian women are not marrying at all. Almost a third of Japanese women in their early 30s are unmarried, half of whom never will. Over one-fifth of Taiwanese women in their late 30s are single, most of whom will always be. In some places, rates of non-marriage are especially striking: 20% of 40 to 44 year old women in Bangkok are not married, 21% of this same group in Tokyo, and 27% of this same age range of university graduates in Singapore.
Philippine Team Wins UN “Women Power” Award
Asia Pacific is home to 9 out of 10 finalists in UN Women’s global Project Inspire Competition.
Central Asia: Women and Leaders Meet to Discuss Economic Opportunities
NEW ON THE SHELF
World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development, The World Bank
Big strides have been made in narrowing gender gaps, but disparities remain in many areas. The worst disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men in developing countries. Globally, excess female mortality after birth and “missing” girls at birth account for an estimated 3.9 million women each year in low- and middle-income countries. About two-fifths are never born due to a preference for sons, a sixth die in early childhood, and over a third die in their reproductive years.
From Gender Studies to Gender IN Studies: Gender Inclusive Curriculum in Higher Education, UNESCO-CEPES, 2011. Gender Mainstreaming in Higher Education Curricula – Models and Guidelines.
Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators on spending, class sizes, teachers’ pay and statistics, including gender dimensions and compared by country.
The US, Korea and the UK rank the highest for tuition fees in the developed world. Japan and Australia follow closely behind, with over $4,000 for an average annual fee.
China has the largest primary class size with an average of 37.1 per class.
Indonesia and Poland have the lowest starting salary for primary school teachers.
Finland, Japan and Portugal have the highest graduation rates of upper secondary school students.
Building Support for Gender Equality Among Young Adolescents in School: Findings from Mumbai, India. ICRW, CORO, TISS, 2011. Key findings from the Gender Equity Movement in Schools program or GEMS.
2011-2012 Gender and Development (GAD) Plan of Action Implementation Matrix, ADB
The matrix guides actions in core areas such as country partnership strategies, policy dialogue and support to developing member countries. It includes additional mechanisms for enhanced monitoring of gender equality results, country gender strategies, and dissemination of good practices.
Gender Checklist, ADB
Guides users through all stages of the project/program cycle in identifying the main gender issues in the education sector and in designing appropriate gender-sensitive strategies, components, and indicators to respond to gender issues.
Gender Diversity Benchmark for Asia 2011, Community Business
The report examines the representation of women in 21 companies. Key findings include:
High potential women mention strong family emphasis on education as one key success factor.
Highest women representation in total workforce is in China (49.79%), followed by Malaysia (47.35%), Hong Kong (45.34%) and Singapore (43.29%).
Lowest women employment is in India (24.43%), followed by Japan (33.62%). Malaysia has the best women representation in senior positions (27.57%).
India consistently comes last in women representation in total workforce, and performs only slightly better than Japan in senior positions.
Developing Next Generation Women Leaders across the Asia Pacific Region, Asia Society White Paper, Sept 2011
ONE GOOD PRACTICE A MONTH
Comics For Gender Equality
World Comics India (WCI) is a collective that identified comics as a powerful tool to stimulate social change. The idea was to get together changemakers, grassroots activists and young people with little formal training in comic illustration and story writing; to channel their voices and stories through the comic art form; and to get them to start using the powerful and comic visual communications as an advocacy tool.
See also: “Grassroots Comics” Serve as a Development Tool in South Asia
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Call for Applications to the Access to Learning Award. Closing date: 30 Sept 2011. Award will recognize innovative efforts of public libraries or similar institutions in developing countries involved in connecting people to information and opportunities through free access to computers and internet. (Grant: 1,000,000 USD)
Global Development Network’s Japanese Award for the Most Innovative Development Project. Closing date: 31 Jan 2012. Grants will be awarded to help scale up projects and/or organizations carrying out original and path-breaking work in sustainable development. (Grants: upto 30,000 USD)
JUST A QUICK QUESTION
What is the significance of CEDAW and how can UNESCO’s work feed into it?
The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is often referred to as the ‘women’s bill of rights’. One of the core international human rights treaties, it requires Member States to undertake legal obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, it came into force as a treaty in 1981. One of the most broadly endorsed human rights treaties today, it has been ratified or acceded to by 186 countries to date, or about 90% of the UN membership. However, despite its widespread ratification, it's provisions' full implementation is still lagging in many parts of the world.
How can we pursue UNESCO’s mandate in the framework of CEDAW? Check out this PPT.
Did your country ratify CEDAW? Find out here - South Asia/ SE Asia/ World.