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Female Equality

Project Anyone and The Global Goals for Sustainable Development have teamed up to recreate the Class Spice Girls song “Wannabe,” this time with girls’ and women’s rights in mind. In this version, the females who sing the chorus of, “Tell me what you want, what you really really want,” respond with a global request: female equality. The viral video has produced a widespread social media campaign, and the organizations behind it hope to take the campaign’s findings to the attention of the United Nations (UN).

The video portrays girls and women around the world, recreating the song while background buildings and signs display requests in response to the chorus. “End Violence Against Women,” one sign responds as the singers echo, “Tell me what you want.” Quality education for all girls, end child marriage and equal pay for equal work are among the other responses in the video.

The video ends with a platform for continuing the campaign on social media, asking women and girls to share photos of their own requests on various social media platforms, so that the needs expressed by the global female community can be shared with policymakers.

Female Equality: Essential for the World

Actress Emma Watson, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, weighed in via Twitter, sharing “#WhatIReallyReallyWant is to see Goal 5 – Gender Equality achieved @theGlobalGoals.” Her international work to promote gender equality over the past several years has made Watson an important voice in promoting women’s rights.

Project Everyone is an organization which works to promote the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals include that which Watson singled out in her response to the campaign, Goal 5: “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls.” Many of the other goals, which seek things like inclusive and quality education, also stand to enable the empowerment of girls and women.

The relationship between female empowerment and achieving sustainable development also works in the other direction. Gender equality and opportunities for women to be educated and contributing members of society is a key step in achieving goals like ending poverty, which is Sustainable Development Goal number one.

Global goals and Project Everyone’s “Wannabe” remake ends with a message and a call to action. “Girl Power has come a long way, let’s take it further,” comes upon the screen following the video.

The impact and scope of the #WhatIReallyReallyWant campaign represents a large step in the right direction towards eliminating gender inequality, gender violence and unequal access to education. The importance of empowering girls and women is far-reaching. The potential which is unlocked when female equality is promoted has a direct impact of achieving Sustainable Development Goal number one: “Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.”

Charlotte Bellomy

Photo: IBI Times

Reasons to Invest in Education for Women
According to the Huffington Post, literacy for women means “less domestic violence, sexual assault [and] sexually transmitted disease.” Investing in education for women also has the benefit of lifting entire families and communities out of poverty. Here are 10 reasons to invest in education for women:

10 Reasons to Invest in Education for Women

  1. Women who are literate can earn up to 95 percent more than women who are illiterate.
  2. An educated woman is able to earn a 25 percent higher wage after attending one year of secondary education and is more likely to reinvest 90 percent of her earnings into her family.
  3. If all girls in South and West Asia, as well as girls in sub-Saharan Africa, attended secondary education, the number of child marriages would fall by nearly 65 percent.
  4. While education for women reduces the number of child marriages, it is also able to reduce the fertility rate of women by up to 10 percent. Educated women overall have fewer children or have children later in life, and those children are more likely to survive and also become educated.
  5. Women who are educated are less likely to contract HIV /AIDS, which leads to fewer children born with HIV and Aids as well.
  6. According to the Girls Global Education Fund, a child born to a woman in Africa with no educated has a one in five chance of dying before the age of five.
  7. Investing in women’s education is shown to carry onto the next generation, with a child being born to an educated woman attending an extra 0.32 years. The results are even greater for young girls born to educated women.
  8. Educated women have a large effect on national economic growth; when education for women is raised by one percentage point, the gross domestic product is increased by approximately 0.3 percentage points.
  9. Education for women consistently delivers more stable and far-reaching economic benefits for families and communities.
  10. An increase in educated women means an increase in female leaders at the local and global levesls.

These are just ten of the many reasons to invest in education for women. As an African proverb says, “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.”

Amanda Panella

Photo: Pixabay

women's_empowerment
With so many important social justice issues to be aware of, it is extremely helpful when the progress of several areas at once can be monitored with only one tool.

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) ties together the importance of advancement in the agriculture sector and the involvement and empowerment of women in the same area.

The Index was developed jointly by Feed the Future, USAID, IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) and OPHI (Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative) as a way of monitoring the success of the Feed the Future Initiative, and that is what makes it unique: The empowerment of women was not tacked on as a side note or as a positive subsidiary effect of the larger goal. Rather, the success of the Feed the Future programs depend on the equitable treatment and fair status of women.

The index debuted in Bangladesh, Guatemala and Uganda in 2012, with the intent to use it for further tracking of the influence of programs. While the tool itself is designed primarily to monitor and evaluate women’s empowerment levels, it is the crucial first step toward making a difference. Once data is generated about a problem, it can be approached with a better understanding of how to solve it, as well as increase awareness and support for fixing it.

So how is “empowerment” defined and measured?

Clearly, the concept is extremely personal. It is something that can be discussed in a very inspired but unspecific way. One Guatemalan woman, for example, said, “Being empowered means that the woman can do things too, not just the man.” To others, it is more about their position within a community. There are a lot of factors that affect what “empowerment” means to a person.

Do empowered actions count if they’re being encouraged, or even enforced, by an outside force? Is empowerment more of an individual or a collective concept? How can such a flexible idea be measured and expanded upon across such a vast range of cultures, ideologies and physical circumstances?

Answering this question is made easier by considering women’s empowerment in the specific context of agriculture. The Index is comprised of two parts: The 5 Domains of Women’s Empowerment (5DE) and the Gender Parity Index (GPI).

The 5 Domains of Women’s Empowerment are the following: role in the production of crops, access to resources, level of income, role in leadership positions and availability of time. Women are considered “empowered” if they meet particular thresholds in four out of five of these areas.

The Gender Parity Index measures the success and empowerment of women in agriculture relative to men living in the same households. A woman who is relatively empowered when compared to women in other countries, but not compared to her husband, will not rank highly on the Gender Parity Index.

The idea of using one index to measure progress in two separate areas might seem unusual, almost non sequitur. But research done by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Association (FAO) has shown that agricultural productivity increased by 20 to 30 percent when access to agricultural resources was equalized between men and women.

By tying important goals together and creating a way to monitor their progress, the WEAI is helping the movement towards shaping a better world.

Emily Dieckman

Sources: Indiana University Bloomington, IFPRI, Feed the Future, USAID
Photo: IFAD

International_Women's_Day
International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Since then, women have made great progress, but there is still a long way to go. International Women’s Day celebrates the political, economic and social achievements of women.

Education

Ramatou Sambo, a 12-year-old girl in the West African country of Benin, escaped a forced marriage to continue her education and build her leadership skills. With the help of her friends, Ramatou said no to dropping out of school for marriage. The girls asked for help from the Students’ Mothers Association; Ramatou is currently enrolled in school and planning to continue her education. She has the blessing of her parents, who publicly renounced their plan to marry their daughter at such a young age.

Voice

A Yemeni woman, whose name was withheld to protect her identity, goes to great lengths to have a say in her government. She spends one night per week walking through mountainous terrain to make sure that her government does not neglect her opinions. In a country where women are only half as valued as men, it is extremely brave for women to take a stand to make sure their voices are heard.

Growth

From a young girl playing barefoot in an Ethiopian village to the first black Miss Israel, 21-year-old Yityish Aynaw has taken the world by storm. After losing both of her parents, Aynaw moved to Israel to live with her Ethiopian Jewish grandparents.

Aynaw had always wanted to model but it was her friend who signed her up for the Miss Israel competition. When she won, Aynaw was invited to dine with one of her role models, United States President Barack Obama. Aynaw herself is now a public role model to not only the 125,000 Ethiopian immigrants in Israel, but also to women everywhere.

Community

Another beauty queen is using her celebrity status to help underprivileged children and women in her birthplace, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.) Noella Coursaris founded the Georges Malaika Foundation, which sponsors the education of young girls who have been abandoned or sexually abused. The Foundation financially supports the girls’ school, food, orphanages and uniforms.

Coursaris believes that educating DRC’s young girls will help the entire country progress. “We believe that showing the culture and the creativity of the Congolese orphans and girls through education they will know how to manage themselves — they will have an education, they will have work one day and they will be able to have a voice politically, economically, socially,” she says.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “equality for women is progress for all,” emphasizing the importance of gender equality, empowerment of women, human rights and the eradication of poverty. Women are powerful agents of change in today’s society; in some countries, International Women’s Day is celebrated similarly to Mother’s Day.

Haley Sklut

Sources: International Women’s Day, Care, United Nations, CNN, CNN, Care
Photo: CSMonitor