Global IWD: UNESCO DG on International Women's Day – Empowering Rural Girls and Women
Marginalised women living in rural settings face steep challenges in the exercise of their human rights. Education provides stark illustration. Girls from rural areas are far less likely to go to school than either rural boys or urban boys and girls. Women make up two thirds of the world's 796 million illiterate people, many of whom live in rural areas. In Cambodia, 48% of rural women are illiterate compared to 14% of rural men. UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education seeks to improve access to secondary education and to bolster literacy – with a focus on girls and women in rural areas.
Global: Less Than One-in-Five Parliamentarians in the World Today are Women
The Guardian found that women make up an average of 19.5% of parliamentarians around the world. In Asia, the average falls to 17.9% and 14.9% in the Pacific. Nepal has the highest representation in the Asia Pacific region at 33.2%, followed by East Timor with 32.3% and New Zealand at 32.2%. Papua New Guinea has the region’s lowest representation of 0.9%. Proposed legislation reserving seats for women in parliament in PNG was recently defeated in the senate. Also read what MP Dame Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea’s only woman MP, has to say to inspire women leaders to contest seat.
Asia Pacific: Youth Activists UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls on IWD
An Asia-Pacific regional IWD event was held at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. An interactive youth panel demonstrated young people’s activism to end violence against women and girls. Violence against women and girls continues to be one of the world’s most widespread human rights violations. Itis a result of deeply embedded cultural values, social attitudes and unequal power relations, which lead to violence against women and girls and are even used to condone it. The audience was treated to a special finale when 16 volunteer male models showed their solidarity by appearing on stage wearing t-shirts with designs from the UNiTE t-shirt design competition.
Fiji: Fairy tales Retelling Gender Roles on IWD
The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement celebrated IWD 2012 by getting girls to produce “Feminist Fairy Tale Storybooks”. These encourage young girls to think about the importance of strong female characters in popular culture and fiction and see girls thinking critically about portrayals of women.
PNG: Schools Uniting to End Violence against Women on IWD
The Papua New Guinea UN Women Country Office visited four Secondary Schools on IWD in the Nation’s capital, Port Moresby. “Rural women and girls and urban women and girls face violence and sexual harassment by men and boys” said UN Women officer Alethia Jimenez at Port Moresby International School. Together with UNiTE Coordinator John Kuri, she noted that it was important to take the message to schools, given PNG’s high levels of violence, so that young people learn to treat everyone with dignity and respect and say no to violence.
Pakistan: National Commission on Status of Women Signed into Law
The Senate unanimously passed the bill of Women rights 2012. President Asif Ali Zardari, on IWD, signed the National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) Bill 2012 into law. The mandate of the National Commission is to review laws, policies and mechanism with gender perspective and to come up with policy recommendations.
Nepal: Review of UNGEI’s To Educate A Girl Film, shown on IWD
The film explores the lives of Manisha, a girl who offered to leave school when her family desperately needed another worker in the family; Sanju, a girl passionate about science and technology but fears she will be unable to achieve her professional ambitions due to her family’s lack of resources; Aspara, a girl who struggled to decide whether she should leave school in order to get married; and Swarnima, a well-educated girl from a privileged background who uses the radio show she hosts, “Chatting with My Best Friend,” as a way to reach out to girls across Nepal and answer their questions and provide them with advice regarding education. To Educate a Girl demonstrates that there is no single reason why so many girls are out of school and conveys greater understanding of all the variables that must be addressed in order to create viable solutions.
Central Asia: Tajik President Emphasized Importance of Primary Education on IWD
China: UN Celebrates Improvements for Women in China on IWD, but Warn More Action is Needed
In 1953, less than 50% of girls in China went to elementary school. By 1995, this had risen to more than 90% of girls. These gains are primarily due to the government's active efforts to support gender equality such as literacy campaigns. However, Co-Chairs of the UN Theme Group on Gender in China Abhimanyu Singh (UNESCO) and Julia Broussard (UN Women) warn that disparities remain, particularly with regards to unequal incomes. In 1990, rural women's average income was 79% that of men's. By 2010, it had fallen to only 56%. Women have not benefited from China's economic growth to the same extent as men, and rural women have benefited the least.
Thailand: UNESCO Bangkok IWD Event Connecting Girls and Inspiring Futures through Sport
“Boys usually think they are better than girls,” said Kim Bui, an Australian-Vietnamese Year 7 student of Bangkok International Preparatory & Secondary School (Bangkok Prep), Thailand. “So today is a good day that girls can get attention and respect.”
Global: Participation in Sports Changes Stereotypes, Promotes Women’s Empowerment and Leadership
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri: Female participation in non-traditional sports breaks down stereotypes and should be encouraged. But more investments are necessary to foster women’s participation and leadership in sport. Female coaches, peer educators and sport staff offer visible proof that women and girls can excel and lead in society. In addition to providing role models, sport can be an effective platform to provide women and girls with leadership skills they can transfer to other domains, such as civic engagement or professional life. Strength, perseverance, commitment, team spirit, solidarity, negotiation, and respect for others — these are values that are central to sports but also to the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Saudi Arabia: Policy to Bar Women, Girls Violates Olympic Charter
Human Rights Watch: As the world prepares for the 2012 Olympics, the Saudi government is systematically discriminating against women in sports and physical education, and has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics, with no penalty from the international Olympic authorities. Human Rights Watch called on the International Olympic Committee to make ending discrimination against women in sports in the kingdom a condition for Saudi Arabia’s participation in Olympic sporting events, including the 2012 London Games.
USA: Celebrates Success of Groundbreaking Title IX Act which Promotes Gender Balance in Sports Funding
The US mark the 40th anniversary of the Title IX act of 1972, which says schools receiving federal funds must not discriminate against male or female students in programs such as sports. That has led universities to offer more scholarships to female athletes, giving many an education and a chance to compete.
India: Exclusive Universities and Colleges for Women Proposed
The 12th Plan document of the University Grants Commission, (UGC), has proposed 20 exclusive universities for women and 800 constituent colleges under the Central varsities.
Afghanistan: New Edicts from Clerics Renounce Gender Equality
Women are subordinate to men, should not mix in work or education and must always have a male guardian when they travel, according to new guidelines from top Afghan clerics. The clerics renounced the equality of men and women enshrined in the Afghan constitution, suggesting they consider the document that forms the basis of the Afghan state to be flawed from a religious perspective.
Korea: Highly Educated Women Reluctant to Get Married and Have Babies
Statistics Korea found that the birth rate for the women whose highest education level is elementary school reaches 3.64 on average, while the rate for those who have the college degrees stands at a mere 1.69.
Global: Commission on Status of Women Approves Seven Draft Texts, but Suspends Fifty-sixth session? Suspends its conclusions?
Expressing “deep regret” that the Commission on the Status of Women had failed to adopt the agreed conclusions that traditionally mark the conclusion of its annual sessions, the head of UN-Women urged delegations to move past that setback and press ahead with efforts to ensure that rural women — the focus of the current session - would be fully empowered to reach their potential. Despite a lack of consensus, seven draft texts were prepared on a blanket of initiatives spanning armed conflict to natural disaster assistance, to be sent to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.
NEW ON THE SHELF
Empowering Girls and Women Through Physical Education and Sport – Advocacy Brief, UNESCO
Participation in physical education and sport programmes provides children with a wide range of educational benefits and skills. Access to such programmes is recognised as a fundamental human right. However, widespread, regular, beneficial and sustainable participation does not come automatically for girls in the Asia-Pacific region. Report provides guidelines for programme development to support an alternative to “traditional” sexist forms of physical education.
World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education, UNESCO and UIS
Includes over 120 maps, charts and tables featuring a wide range of sex-disaggregated indicators. The information and analysis call attention to persistent gender disparities and the need for greater focus on girls’ education as a human right. The atlas illustrates the educational pathways of girls and boys and the changes in gender disparities over time. It hones in on the gender impact of critical factors such as national wealth, geographic location, investment in education, and fields of study.
Women and Higher Education in Iran: What are the Implications for Employment, International Review of Education, Volume 57, Numbers 3-4 / August 2011
In contemporary Iran, women with higher education face both gender discrimination and an unfavourable economic system, one that is not conducive to employment-generation for women. Individual women discuss their experience of higher education and factors they think are contributing to their limited choice of employment. The paper suggests that while the recent trend in negotiating mehrieh (a nuptial gift which is payable by the groom to the bride) has been a strategy employed by Iranian women to overcome some of the discriminatory laws they are subject to, this trend cannot actually be explained by the fact that women’s employment opportunities are limited. The paper concludes by asserting that limited labour force participation for educated women is a consequence of both political economy and gender ideology.
Sustaining Advocacy and Action on Women’s Participation and Gender Equality in Adult Education, International Review of Education
Gives an overview of the development of gender equality and women’s participation in adult learning and education in the history of the International Conferences on Adult Education (CONFINTEA). The first Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) observed that a gender gap in the participation in adult learning and education still persisted in 2009. This is especially remarkable with regard to the impact of CONFINTEA V in 1997, because it focused on the issue of women’s participation and gender equality. A review of the CONFINTEA VI programme elements and the national reports prepared by UNESCO Member States in 2008 reveals that gender issues have to some extent moved from the centre of attention to the periphery. This article therefore explores how gender principles are acknowledged in CONFINTEA VI and its follow-up.
ONE GOOD PRACTICE A MONTH
Education in Student’s Mother Tongue
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people are women. In ethnolinguistic communities, boys are often encouraged to interact with others in languages of wider communication. Girls, however, are typically expected to stay close to home where the local language is often the only language used. Research shows that girls and women who are educated in languages familiar to them stay in school longer and achieve better results than those who do not get mother-tongue instruction.
To support this, governments can adopt policies to institutionalize mother tongue, such as that adopted in the Philippines in 2009. Announcing the new policy, the Department of Education states, “The lessons and findings of various local initiatives and international studies in basic education have validated the superiority of the use of the learner’s mother tongue or first language in improving learning outcomes and promoting education for all”.
Read more about the benefits of mother-tongue multilingual education in Why Language Matters for the Millennium Development Goals (UNESCO Bangkok, 2012)
JUST A QUICK QUESTION
Does Affirmative Action Narrow Gender Equality Gaps?
An index which measures the gap between men and women in indicators (the Gender Equality Index or GEI) recently put the East Asia and Pacific region at 69, while South Asia is at the very bottom of the chart with 39 points. These figures indicate the low status of women and a lack of affirmative action to address the gender gap in these regions. Afghanistan was the country in the worst global situation with a gender equality rating of just 15.
Importantly, the GEI research also shows that a lack of equity cannot be justified by a lack of resources: the GEI mapping shows that regardless of income levels, each country can reduce gender disparity through adequate policies. Developing country Mongolia has a GEI rating of 81, alongside developed countries like Spain. The country has a 20% quota for female candidates of every political party to the parliament, as well as relevant gender provisions on government, labour, civil service and human rights. The government has also set up a task force to draft a new Gender Equality Action Plan for the next 5 years. Undral Gombodorj, director of the Democracy Education Center (DEMO), explained that “a long overdue Law on Gender Equality was passed in February 2011, explicitly prohibiting any act of exclusion, restriction and discrimination against women in every sphere”.
Conversely, Cambodia’s GEI score of 55 puts it at the bottom of countries in East Asia. This could largely be explained by social pressures that push women out of the education system, according to Thida Khus, executive director of the Cambodian NGO Silaka. “Many women fall through the cracks. Culturally, women have a lot of pressure to support the family, and are forced to abandon school. The education system is not addressing the needs of these girls,” she said, calling for the government to rethink macro-economic and education policy to keep girls in school.
Source: Social Watch
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