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Girls Finishing Primary School
The importance of education in lifting a country out of extreme poverty has been well established. Specifically, girls’ education promotes gender equality, raises wages and results in smaller, healthier families. There is an unprecedented increase in girls finishing primary school, allowing them to get educated alongside their male peers.

Income Levels and How they Affect Girls Finishing Primary School

The percentage of girls who can afford to attend (and finish) primary school is directly tied to their country’s income level. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

Level 4: Oman

One hundred percent of girls in Oman finish primary school. Primary school starts at age 6 and continues until age 18, and girls can go to one of 1,045 schools as of 2011. However, back in 1973, when Oman was a Level 1 country, there were only three primary schools with no girls attending them at all. Oman has experienced phenomenal advances in both poverty reduction and girls’ education.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said ascended the throne in 1970 and did not like what he saw. He vowed to improve life for the Omani people. This included, among many other things, opening more schools and allowing girls to attend them. Additionally, he made public school free, allowed private schools to exist and created a comprehensive kindergarten curriculum. With the availability of free education for girls, 100 percent of girls attend and complete primary school.

Level 3: Iraq

In Iraq, 58.8 percent of the nation’s girls finish primary school. This is down from 68 percent in 2004, but it is higher than the 0.722 percent that it was in 1974. At present, girls make up 44.8 percent of students in primary schools.

The Iraqi school system is far from ideal. Uneducated girls, when asked why they do not attend school, cite abusive teachers, poverty, the presence of boys and concerns about domestic and national safety. Those who do go to school endure dirty bathrooms, a lack of clean drinking water and the aforementioned abusive teachers. Despite this, there are enough girls finishing primary school in Iraq to keep the country out of extreme poverty in the next generation.

Level 2: Morocco

In Morocco, 94.7 percent of girls finish primary school. This is a stark increase from 22.9 percent in 1972. After King Mohammed the Sixth ascended the throne on July 30, 1999, he began placing more focus on the education of his people. His efforts have impacted girls more than boys, as shown by the fact that only 9 percent of girls have to repeat any grades in primary school, which is less than the 13 percent of boys who have to do so. Although this has done little to improve women’s reputations as workers thus far, it is still a victory for the country.

Level 1: Myanmar

In Myanmar, 89.3 percent of girls finish primary school. This number was only 30.8 percent in 1971 for a simple reason: extreme poverty. While schooling itself is technically free, parents still need to pay for uniforms and supplies, and boys are favored over girls in terms of whom parents will spend money on. Sometimes, girls as young as 4 years old are sent to schools in Buddhist monasteries, which means being separated from their families.

However, help is being provided by the international community. Educational Empowerment is an American organization dedicated to promoting educational equality in Southeast Asia. It develops and supports schools in Myanmar, publishes books, and gives microloans to mothers to help get their daughters into school. This has helped girls catch up to their male peers and finish primary school.

For girls, getting an education has historically not been an easy task. Between the cost of school attendance, the existence of extreme poverty and general gender inequality, girls often fall behind their male peers when it comes to receiving an education. However, thanks to new government rulings and help from nonprofit organizations, there are now more girls finishing primary school than ever before, and the number is set to rise even higher. In the near future, girls’ education will be on par with that of their male counterparts. This is important because educating girls leads to educated women, and educated women can help lift a country out of extreme poverty.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

How to Measure Women's Empowerment for Equality
Investing in gender equality has proven to stimulate economic growth and create safer and healthier communities. If a woman is given the opportunity to work, her entry into the labor force initiates economic expansion. When given equal access to education, girls are able to become educated mothers and, in turn, create a more stable environment for the family.

Reasons to Invest in Gender Equality

With such good benefits, why wouldn’t someone invest in such equality? The problem is that the world needs an accurate way to measure women’s empowerment so it’s possible to create prosperous and efficient programs.

Multiple theories have arisen attempting to address this issue. Some believe a good way of assessing the level of empowerment in a woman’s society is to gauge how much she is able to participate in formal and informal social institutions.

Ability to make one’s own life choices is always emphasized as a factor of measurement. Having agency over decisions is an important part of everyone’s life that women in impoverished countries are often deprived.

Women’s Empowerment Framework

UNICEF uses its own method called the Women’s Empowerment Framework (WEF) that includes control, social participation, access to resources and welfare. According to this measurement system, supplying women with welfare will have a domino effect that will turn into mobilization and finally, control.

The WEF promotes women having careers and leadership positions so that they have an equal place in society to that of men. It also emphasizes the importance of having access to maternal healthcare and closing the gender wage gap.

J-PAL Approach

The most recent developments in methods to measure women’s empowerment comes from MIT’s Poverty Action Lab called J-PAL. This approach takes into account the local context of the girl’s community and how that affects her ability to makes choices in her own life.

According to J-PAL’s plan, there needs to be a logical way of measuring the amount of impact a program has on a woman and her community. Surveys are an option, but researchers acknowledge that sometimes women do not know how or cannot answer the question well. However, phrasing questions in simple, easy-to-answer ways can increase the accuracy of survey results.

Research studies to measure gender bias in communities is also a good way to gauge women’s freedom. J-PAL also addressed the gravity of properly collecting data from this research. Without an accurate and easy way to track results, it will not be possible to construct effective programs.

Achieving Gender Equality

J-PAL’s outline for conducting gender analysis can ultimately help a lot of women living in oppressed communities. Reliable systems need to be put into place in order to measure women’s empowerment and thus create real equality.

The approach is far from perfect, but with a constantly changing subject of research, it is near impossible to pin down a way to measure with 100 percent accuracy. Despite some flaws, the invention of this method helps women today and has the promising potential to change how people view and react to women’s empowerment across the world for years to come.  

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

7 Reasons Why Cooperatives Are Important To Poverty Reduction
Cooperatives are important in reducing poverty. All cooperatives, social or economic, are mechanisms that ensure the growth and prosperity of communities. In developing and transitioning countries that lack access to capital, education, and training, cooperative structures allow communities to pool together their resources to solve problems, identify common goals and target the causes and symptoms of poverty.

What Are Cooperatives?

Cooperatives are organizations of all types that address a wide range of issues — from food producers and consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, to credit and hybrid cooperatives all around the globe.

Anytime people have common concerns, face similar struggles or are looking for solutions bigger than they alone can accomplish, cooperatives offer an answer via strength in numbers. This is why cooperatives are important to poverty reduction.

When Did Cooperatives Begin?

Cooperatives date back to the 1840s when the Rochdale Society of Equitable Partners came together after losing their jobs to industrialization. This group decided to band its resources together and open a store that provided goods they all needed, but couldn’t afford on their own.

Out of their individual experiences, we were left with the Rochdale Principles — a set of operations still in use today that helped the pioneering group manage the realities of poverty in an organized and productive manner.

What Are Cooperatives Core Principles?

The success of cooperatives depends upon seven core principles of cooperative development:

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Cooperation among cooperative
  • Concern for community

More than 760 million people around the world are a part of the cooperative movement. Here are seven reasons why cooperatives are important to successful poverty reduction.

7 Reasons Cooperatives are Important to Poverty Reduction

  1. Cooperatives directly answer community needs, adjusted to local concerns. They are anchors that distribute, recycle and multiply local expertise, resources and capital. Autonomous cooperatives reach the poorest people in the community, offering upward mobility and basic infrastructure ignored by large businesses. Consumer Cooperatives, like Rochdale play a vital role in distributing food and basic resources in poor and rural areas. Profits and benefits also circulate within the same community.
  1. Cooperatives help build peaceful societies. In the process of transforming poverty-ridden communities into vibrant economies, cooperatives contribute to skill-development and education. They bolster gender equality and improve the health and living standards of an entire community. Cooperatives have been instrumental in meeting the Millenium Development Goals, as nations are more likely to stay peaceful by escaping the poverty trap.
  1. Cooperatives enable farmers to obtain higher returns. Agricultural and fishing cooperatives support its members by providing training, credit and resources. Rural cooperatives, dependant on agriculture, don’t have to look to international companies to grow. In impoverished communities with low inputs, it is unlikely they can produce the quality and quantity desired to make profitable margins. Combining supply purchases, sales and other expenses can help cooperatives operate at lower cost-per-unit than their individual farmer counterparts. This can allow for an entire community to re-market their product at a higher price.
  1. Worker cooperatives promote collaborative entrepreneurship and economic growth. Cooperatives reduce individual risk in much-needed business ventures and create a culture of shared productivity, decision-making and creative problem-solving. Only 10 percent of cooperatives fail while 60 to 80 percent of businesses fail; in fact, cooperatives can revive communities by allocating funds to rising workers with vested interests. Credit cooperatives also supply money to start a new business or repair current ones. Profits from sales can then support larger community projects that help each member and the community as a whole to survive.
  1. Cooperatives create competition within local markets. Since services come at a cost to members, pricing adjustments occur to benefit members and impact other organizations in order to compete at the same efficiency. Purchasing cooperatives, in particular, help businesses compete with large, national retailers. Cooperatives not only provide positive outcomes for its members, but also excite local markets as a whole.
  1. Multi-purpose and credit cooperatives provide small loans to their members. These loans go to self-employment, offering an opportunity for better wages through retail shopkeeping, farming or livestock. This allocation of funds can go towards building needed community infrastructure projects and financing small businesses that help local economies grow.
  1. Industrial and craft cooperatives help members produce marketable products. In addition to training, shared facilities allow members to access raw materials and technical machinery otherwise unavailable in rural areas. These cooperatives can provide an additional source of income for families and allow them to grow in their communities, rather than travel to urban centers at a high cost.

Empowerment and Collaboration

Cooperatives organize all over the world because they can help in almost every circumstance. Both developing and developed countries depend on cooperatives because they are an empowering model that promotes collaborative social change.

While foreign aid and investments drastically help impoverished communities, external remedies are only half the battle. Cooperatives provide a grassroots initiative and social structure to address all symptoms of poverty.

Cooperatives also make aid and assistance all the more powerful. With strong communities and the right foreign assistance, eradication of extreme poverty becomes all the more feasible.

– Joseph Ventura
Photo: Flickr

gender barriers
Equality between men and women still remains a struggle in the majority of countries around the world, but the fact that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth is becoming more evident in the world’s fastest-growing economies. In addition to fueling the principle of equality, women’s economic participation is a vital, often overlooked, piece to the labor force.

Female Economic Participation

According to the International Monetary Fund, the importance of female economic participation mitigates the shrinking labor force in developing countries. The more opportunities women have increases the likelihood of the gender contributing to broader economic development. Such outcomes are often seen through higher enrollment numbers for education.

Currently, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, women account for 21 percent of the labor force. Often these gaps lead to significant GDP losses. Countries that have acquired such losses include Qatar, Oman and Iran, and all three nations have a projected GDP loss estimated at 30 percent or higher.

Many of these countries pose a legal threat to women — women signing contracts, traveling abroad and negotiating finances are not common. However large the losses, there are significant macroeconomic benefits to eliminating gender barriers. Some of these benefits include:

  • Improvements in financial analytics
  • Economic inclusion and data collection
  • Reformative fiscal policies that integrate equality into law

One U.N. study claims that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth by fostering an additional $89 billion into the Asian Pacific economy per year.

A Rwandan Success Story

Some countries have fought hard to relinquish the negative stigma associated with women in their economies. From innovative coffee plantations in Rwanda to legislative change, alleviation of bias is slowly filtering its way through exclusive boundaries.

For instance, Rwanda has recently become a powerful leader in the gender equality sphere. Policies regarding gender empowerment and budgeting of public services are setting precedents for many Sub-Saharan African countries. In addition, the Ministry for Gender and Family Promotion is the largest gender equality organization in the country. Its commitment is centered on gender-based budgeting and fighting gender-based violence.

Rwanda and Gender

Post-Rwandan Genocide culture opened many doors for women just as World War II did for Americans. President Paul Kagame recognized the need for women’s labor and in 2003 passed legislation requiring 30 percent of parliamentary seats to be reserved for women. Kagame battled to revitalize the torn country with a labor force that was unheard of for many Eastern African countries.

As of January 2018 and thanks to President Kagame, 64 percent of seats in Rwandan legislature were held by women. This is a feat highly praised by most Rwandan women, but still remains a slight issue with Rwandan males and traditional females who choose to ignore the fact that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth.

Though Rwandan history has uniquely paved the way for female empowerment, many countries still lag behind the concept of gender equality. If barriers continue to be eliminated, economic success is sure to follow. Perhaps global powerhouses, like the U.S., can learn from Rwandan history, gender equality and culture, and bring gender equality to the forefront.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

Education for Girls in PakistanIn April 2018, a school will open that is focused on improving education for girls in Pakistan of all grades. Thanks to the Malala Fund and the Big Heart Foundation’s Girl’s Child Fund, this school will serve approximately 330 girls with the expectation to increase gradually to 1,000 students.

Farah Mohamed, CEO of the Malala Fund, and Mariam Al Hammadi, the Director of the Big Heart Foundation, signed an agreement regarding the school in Oxford, London. In attendance at the signing was Malala Yousafzai and Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the Big Heart Foundation’s Humanitarian Envoy.

Financing for the School

The Big Heart Foundation donated $70,000 to the school and agreed to pay for the school’s operational needs such as medical, security expenses, transportation, uniforms, staff salary and books. The Big Heart Foundation plans to finance the school’s first two years with these funds. The school will be located in Swat Valley, which is the hometown of Malala Yousafzai, the founder of the Malala Fund.

Malala Yousafzai commented on the donation, saying, “I overwhelming thank the Big Heart Foundation for believing in my dream of a world where girls can choose their own future path. With their support, the Malala Fund can provide education for girls in my hometown, Swat Valley in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Education System

The creation of this school is a small but essential step in improving tragically low literacy and education levels in Pakistan’s lagging school system. As of 2015, there were about 3,309,514 young girls not enrolled in school. This does not include the other 2,902,032 adolescent women who were also not enrolled. In 2014, the illiterate population for women who were 15 and older was over 32,000,000.

Pakistan’s primary education school has been characterized as one of the most underdeveloped programs. Only 60 percent of its children complete their education through the fifth grade, while the others drop out for various reasons. Additionally, only 8 percent of Pakistan’s population has the qualifying grades to receive a tertiary education.

The Contributors

The Big Heart Foundation was created in May of 2015 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. The organization’s goal is to provide needed humanitarian support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its primary aim is to help vulnerable families and children who live outside of the UAE, such as Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and others. It hopes to provide safe and secure environments to families and children in need, help increase the cooperation between local and regional government and help improve financial support.

The Malala Fund was founded in 2013 by Malala Yousafzai along with her father. This organization campaigns the idea that every girl has the right to 12 years of free and safe education. It believes that “girls are the best investment in future peace and prosperity of our world.”

Thanks to these two important organizations, in the near future, education for girls in Pakistan will finally be provided. Though education for girls in Pakistan is in dire need of improvement, this school is a vital, beneficial and necessary step.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

Women’s empowerment in IndiaApproximately 270 million Indian people live in poverty, the highest proportion of them women and children. Despite centuries of oppression and social exclusion, women’s empowerment in India is the key to success in alleviating rural poverty throughout the nation. Studies have shown that the poorer the family, the more they rely on the women of their family for survival.

Women in the Workforce

Historically, Indian women have been tasked with collecting clean drinking water, fetching wood for cooking and ensuring other day-to-day tasks to keep their households running smoothly. A cultural shift has recently allowed more women to enter the workforce.

Indian women are proving to be absolutely essential for the future success of India’s growing economy. Many families depend on women’s earnings to keep them afloat and women have started turning to the agricultural sector for employment. Agriculture employs over 80 percent of India’s economically active women. As a result of more women turning to agriculture for work, the country’s agricultural wages have risen and the gap between male and female agricultural wage rates has shrunk.

The Creation of Self-Help Groups

Women’s empowerment in India has been a focus for the Indian government for a number of years. Across the country, self-help groups (SHGs) focused on empowering women have been introduced in rural communities. These groups are usually comprised of 10 to 20 local women from the targeted area. The goals of SHGs are specific to the community it serves, but generally are implemented with a focus toward training members in income-generating activities.

Success Stories of Women’s empowerment in India

In 1998, a small village in India’s north-eastern Jharkhand state was crippled with poverty. The village of Teliya was ridden with severe food insecurity and very little money. Today, Teliya is a thriving village producing year-round cash crops and selling other products to national markets. This transformation began with an SHG.

Teliya’s SHG was started by PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action), an India-based non-governmental organization. Funded by a New York-based social justice program, the Ford Foundation, PRADAN has focused on empowering India’s poor and has worked collaboratively with impoverished villages for the past 30 years.

The SHG implemented in Teliya encouraged women to save what money they could to start a community of resource sharing and investment making. Women in the area started contributing what little money they had over the course of a few months. After gaining new confidence, women in Teliya quickly became representatives for their community, unafraid to speak out for the rights of themselves and their families. Women’s empowerment in India has thus proven to be a success.

Teliya’s success story is similar to other SHGs. Most SHGs start out with a small number of women pooling their money to create a savings for their community and to provide group loans to their other community members. PRADAN works as an outside supporter, giving the community or village the necessary tools to work from the ground up. The organization is currently working with villages in eight different states across India.

With the success of each SHG and organizations devoted to women’s empowerment in India, the number of people living in poverty steadily decreases. Continued progress toward gender equality will only serve to further improve the nation’s economic and social states.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in the PhilippinesThe Philippines has maintained its place among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of gender equality. To achieve women’s empowerment in the Philippines, the government adopted the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) was adopted in 2009. It seeks to end all discrimination and to promote the rights of women, as well as to establish the Philippines’ commitment to the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’s Committee and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The MCW’s agenda includes:

  1. Achieve fifty-fifty gender balance in government positions.
  2. Leave benefits and nondiscrimination in employment, especially in military and police.
  3. Equal access in education and equal status.
  4. Nondiscriminatory and nonderogatory portrayal of women in media and films.
  5. Mandates review, amendment and repeal of existing discriminatory laws.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) is the oversight body on women’s concerns and acts as the catalyst for gender mainstreaming and the lead advocate of women’s empowerment in the Philippines. It works around focus areas such as Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda, gender-responsive governance, leadership and political participation, violence against women and women’s economic empowerment.

However, challenges still exist for the Philippines. Poverty and vulnerability of rural and indigenous women remain a pressing issue. Each day, 11 women die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth, and many women still lack access to productive employment.

The Philippines is the only country in the world which does not allow for a divorce.  Other than the death of one’s partner, getting an annulment is the only option for dissolving a marriage. According to the Philippine Commission on Women, this can be done on grounds of “lack of parental consent; insanity/psychological incapacity; fraud, force, intimidation or undue influence; impotence; and sexually transmissible diseases.” The burden of a failed marriage often falls on the woman due to cultural stereotype. Adopting divorce in the Philippines’ Family Code is essential to uplift the plight of women trapped in a marriage ridden with violence, abuse, oppression and deprivation, and to achieve women’s empowerment in the Philippines.

The Philippines also considers adultery and concubinage as criminal offenses against chastity and are drafted as well as implemented in a manner prejudicial to women. Many provisions of the Family Code give men more decision-making powers than women. Another blatant violation of human rights, Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code, exempts a husband or a parent who causes serious physical harm or death upon his wife or minor daughter if she has been caught portraying “unacceptable sexual behavior.”

Structural sexism remains the biggest obstacle to women’s empowerment in the Philippines. Even though there are many laws in place that score well on international measures, the implementation of these policies are slow and have not translated into gender parity in the largely patriarchal society.

-Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

Women’s Empowerment in South SudanOver the past several decades, South Sudan has experienced severe political division, violence and unbearable poverty. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes to neighboring countries for asylum. The violence has been targeted at men, women, children, the disabled and the elderly. However, women and young girls are considered a particularly vulnerable population for violence, specifically physical and sexual violence. This sometimes includes forced marriages. In spite of the vulnerability and risk, women’s empowerment in South Sudan is growing. Here are some things to know about the empowerment of women in South Sudan.

Current Situation

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), approximately 475,000 women and girls are at risk for physical and sexual violence. Most recent estimates indicate that more than half of young women between the ages of 15-24 have experienced some form of gender-based violence. The violence women are experiencing in South Sudan is of serious concern and importance because it deeply impacts women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, and may also place them at an increased risk for contracting diseases, such as the incurable HIV.

Forced marriages are a frequent practice in South Sudan. Almost 50 percent of South Sudanese girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are married, and some are as young as 12. Forced marriages have severe psychological implications for girls and women, but experts also argue that it contributes to the high levels of poverty, gender gaps in education and the country having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

The perpetual gender-based violence and forced marriage creates serious physical and mental health concerns, limits their potential for progress and improvement and strips them of their basic human rights.

What is being done?

The United Nations Development Programme currently works to empower women in South Sudan through education and awareness. Awareness is one of the fundamental aspects of their work in South Sudan, as fear and stigma frequently prevent women from seeking the help they need. The program also provides additional support to women who have already experienced severe violence through counseling services and medical assistance.

The UNDP is also working with the government to encourage women’s empowerment in South Sudan. The government is working to address gender-based violence through mental health support programs and through national planning. South Sudan is in the process of developing a new permanent constitution and building new institutions that reflect the country’s movement towards gender equality and the empowerment of women.

What can be done?

Currently, South Sudan lacks severe governmental infrastructure, and overall the country has some of the worst human development indicators across the globe.  Many programs related to women’s empowerment in South Sudan are underfunded as gender-based violence is not considered to be a priority for government spending, due to the country’s high rate of poverty.

However, poverty and gender-based violence go hand-in-hand. If fewer women are subjected to violence and forced marriages, more women would then have the ability to work and find jobs; in turn lifting individuals, and possibly families, out of poverty. Women’s empowerment in South Sudan needs additional awareness, coupled with increased funding in order to provide women with the best future possible.

– Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr

Women’s Empowerment in Sri LankaOn November 2, the World Economic Forum released the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report. The report did not reflect well on the state of women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka.

The Global Gender Gap Report grades 144 countries on their progress toward attaining gender equality in four areas: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment. Sri Lanka has been declining from its position in the top 20 since 2010. The country slipped from closing 74.6 percent of the gender gap in 2010 to 66.9 percent this year.

The country’s gap in Economic Participation and Opportunity increased because it failed to improve conditions of wage inequality for similar work. Additionally, Sri Lanka now ranks 86th among 144 countries in the gender gap in Educational Attainment.

In Political Empowerment, Sri Lanka ranked 65th. The country compensated for low scores on the Women in Parliament and Women in Ministerial Positions indicators with high marks on the Years with a Female Head of State indicator. Sri Lanka has had a female head of state for 21 out of the last 50 years.

Despite these discouraging statistics, efforts to advance the state of women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka persist. Aitken Spence PLC, Jetwing Hotels Ltd., MAS Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd. and the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (Pvt.) Ltd. have signed on as partners of Women’s Empowerment Principles.

Developed through a partnership between U.N. Women and the United Nations Global Compact, the two organizations designed the principles to help companies review existing policies and practices and establish new strategies to promote women’s empowerment.

The principles include:

  • Establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  • Treating all women and men equitably at work by respecting and supporting human rights and non-discrimination
  • Securing the health, safety and well-being of all female and male workers
  • Promoting education, training and professional development for women
  • Implementing enterprise development and employing supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
  • Nurturing equality through community initiatives and advocacy

Participating companies must measure and publicly report their progress toward achieving gender parity.

In addition to economic measures, non-government organizations are implementing social programs to enhance women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka. Emerge Centre for Reintegration is the newest program sponsored by the Emerge Lanka Foundation, which supports survivors of sexual abuse aged 10-18. For 12 years, the foundation has helped countless exploited young women by providing training in life, financial and professional skills. Now, through the Centre for Reintegration, it offers assistance to young women who are over 18 as they face the challenging transition stage from living in shelters to thriving on their own.

Enabling women to participate fully in communities builds stronger economies, helps attain internationally agreed upon objectives for development and sustainability and improves the quality of life for women, men, families and communities. The work being done in Sri Lanka can help counter its decreasing rankings and ensure empowerment for all women.

– Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr

global educationTwo of the biggest myths about global poverty are that countries are doomed to stay poor no matter how much aid they receive and that global poverty is too big to fix. There is progress in the fight to end global poverty every day. Several of the largest importers of American goods and services, including countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, have graduated from U.S. foreign aid programs to economic independence, and global poverty has been cut in half since 1990.

Foreign aid helps contribute to the downsizing of global poverty, but there are other ways to help as well. If total global education were achieved, it would have a significant impact on the reduction of poverty.

Here are six ways global education can reduce global poverty.

  1. Education can reduce economic inequalities. If everyone had the same amount of education, disparity in working poverty would shrink by 39 percent.
  2. Education promotes economic growth. According to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), “In 2050, GDP per capita in low-income countries would be almost 70 percent higher if all children were learning.”
  3. Education can increase earnings. According to UNESCO, one extra year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10 percent. According to the GPE, for each additional dollar invested in an extra year of schooling, earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle income countries.
  4. Education can lead to gender equality. Women have been proven to reap higher returns from schooling, and some countries that fail to educate their girls properly lose out on an estimated $92 billion in economic growth.
  5. Education can lead to access to clean water. In rural areas, girls spend 15 hours a day collecting water for their families. If everyone, girls included, were educated properly about their health and water sanitation, local water sanitation would increase. This could potentially lead to a decline in the amount of time needed to fetch water.
  6. Education can lead to peace and justice. The world’s most dangerous countries are also the poorest. Educated people tend to participate in the democratic process and exercise their civil rights, according to UNESCO. They also tend to be more tolerant of people different than they are.

It would take only $16 billion a year in aid to send all children to school in low-income countries, according to UNESCO. For comparison, the U.S alone spends $601 billion on its military. Global education is attainable, and it can change and save lives.

Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr