Posts

Poverty Reduction Efforts on WomenProgress in the fight against poverty has demonstrated the importance of focusing on poverty alleviation efforts on women and children. Despite the great gains that have been made, gender inequality and violence against women still exist in every country in the world. Poverty reduction efforts should focus on women because women are vital to sustainable development. The empowerment of women leads to economic growth and increased social stability.

Poverty reduction efforts should focus on women because women have fewer opportunities for equal and meaningful education, jobs, and health care. Access to these human rights is essential in order to escape from poverty. Currently, women own only one percent of all property and earn just 10 percent of all income, yet they produce half of the world’s food.

Over 70 percent of the world’s poor, those living on less than $1.25 USD per day, are women. Because women compose the majority of those living in poverty, and because they face additional hurdles in achieving economic and social equality and success, poverty reduction efforts should focus on women across the globe, especially among the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

Most of the world’s poor women spend the majority of their time performing household chores, including cooking, cleaning, growing or obtaining food, collecting fuel and water, and caring for family members. Women do not receive monetary compensation for these tasks, yet they compose up to 63 percent of the gross domestic product in countries like India and Tanzania. Time and energy spent on these essential tasks result in fewer opportunities for advancement, such as education or economic pursuits.

A 2000 study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that the majority of the reduction in global hunger between 1970 and 1995 could be attributed to the improvement of women’s social status. Progress in women’s education, food availability, and health care all played major roles in the reduction of hunger.

Because women play a major role in the world’s food production, poverty reduction efforts should focus on women farmers in order to help them earn a viable income and rise above poverty. Programs have been instituted in China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines that subsidize women farmers in order to allow them to grow food while earning extra income from selling vegetables or raising animals. Access to adequate sanitation facilities, health care, and children’s education are also priorities for bringing more women out of poverty.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: Center for American Progress, NY Times
Photo: Muslimah Source

women
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day deals with ending violence against women. So did the theme in 2009 (“Ending impunity for violence against women and girls”) and in 2007 (“Women and men united to end violence against women in girls”). While International Women’s Day can choose a theme that highlights different issues plaguing women in rural and urban areas, the UN seems to keep going back to violence against women.

Why?

Violence against women is still a huge issue across the world and looking at Zimbabwe, how large of an issue it is becomes apparent. In Zimbabwe, women may be faced with abuse from their spouses, family members, and even their children. Reported cases of domestic violence have risen from 1,940 cases in 2008 to 10,351 cases in 2011, according to AllAfrica.org. The number of domestic violence cases in 2012 are said to surpass even that number, showing that domestic violence is not going away and bringing attention to the issue, which the UN’s International Women’s Day is doing, as necessary.

Even though the country has taken great strides to end violence against women, a 2010-2011 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey shows that 30 percent of women have experienced some form of domestic violence since the age of 15. This violence, most often, comes from the people that women should be able to trust, who are supposed to protect them. Women are asking questions now – “what has to happen for violence against women to end, what are the challenges, who will stand up and look straight in the eyes of perpetrators to say enough is enough?” – and demanding answers.

Women in Zimbabwe are using International Women’s Day to denounce all types of violence against women, and are coming together to demand answers.

– Angela Hooks 

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: AllAfrica

Mexico's First Midwifery SchoolIn Mexico, traditional midwifery services have been fallen steadily as women choose to have their babies in hospitals. However, many citizens who still live too far from hospitals need midwives. To meet this demand, Mexico has established its first public midwifery school, and young women are learning this ancient practice with the intent to graduate.

Guadalupe Maniero, the school’s director, explains that in Mexico, “hospitals are oversaturated, and so it’s a big problem.” Since the 2011 law that grants midwives a place among the country’s legally accepted medical professions, age-old stigmas have begun to fade. By helping to deliver babies, doctors have much more time to spend focusing on dangerous births in which the child and/or mother are in danger.

The four-year program grants its graduates certificates that allow them to practice in legitimate health centers. By interweaving longstanding cultural traditions with modern-day needs and practices, Mexico’s first midwifery school has the potential to benefit the entire country for years to come.

Jake Simon

Source: NPR

Early Marriage as a Form of ViolenceIn 2020, more than 140 million girls will be attending a wedding – their own. Of these 150 million girls, 50 million will be attending their own wedding before they have even celebrated their 15th birthday.

These numbers are based on current rates of early marriage, according to the UN.

Most child marriages occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In fact, nearly half of all young women are married before the age of 18 in South Asia. In Africa, this percentage drops, but only to one-third.

In light of International Women’s Day, whether child marriage should be considered a form of violence against women and children is up for debate. According to UN Women, early marriage increases a girl’s chance of becoming a victim of sexual violence in the home. It also limits a girl’s access to education because she is often expected to have children and take care of her husband and household. It is also associated with increased health risks due to early pregnancy and motherhood.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was recently presented a petition by the World Young Women’s Christian Association (WYWCA) that urged CSW to help end child marriage by 2030.

Yet, fighting early marriage will be an uphill battle. In many countries and cultures, marrying at a young age is traditional and is not seen as a problem. In some areas, particularly poorer countries, there are not enough resources for girls to continue in school as their male counterparts. Marriage serves as an easy way to justify girls abandoning their education to stay at home. Another issue plaguing poorer countries and people is the practice of a “bride price.” Some fathers will marry their daughters off for the price of a cow, especially during difficult times. According to Catherine Gotani Hara, Health Minister of Malawi, “Someone will come in and give a father a cow for a girl when they are eight or nine years old and when they reach puberty they will give another cow.” Out of need or necessity, a daughter may be worth two cows.

Getting around the barriers surrounding child marriage will require the support of governments and the passing of legislation that raises the legal age of marriage, as well as provides more resources for schools so that girls can reach the same level of education as their male counterparts. Currently, this is what happening in Malawi. The rate of child marriage in Malawi is currently 50 percent but by 2014, the age of legal marriage will hopefully have moved up from 15 to 18. Only time will tell if these steps will help eradicate child marriage.

– Angela Hooks

Source: Guardian

Finance Minister Proposes Women's Bank in IndiaIn a provocative move by India’s current Minister of Finance Shri Palaniappan Chidambaran, government finance officials have proposed the transformation of their underutilized Indian Post Offices into the first-ever women’s bank in India.

The women’s bank in the country will receive an initial start-up investment of 4, 909 crore in order to help modernize the antiquated Indian Post Offices, including the refurbishment of facilities and the implementation of ATMs and electronic devices necessary for banking. The hope is that the newly created banks will inspire more competition in the Indian banking industry, adding both greater market segmentation and opportunities for growth, especially amongst women entrepreneurs.

The women’s bank in India will be run primarily by women bankers and loan officers, with each branch receiving 1,000 crore for loans and local investment. Furthermore, the banks overall goal will be to lend to women business owners, promoting greater empowerment and social mobility through local financing of projects led by women. When asked about a women’s bank in India, Bank of India CMD VR Lyer stated that, “Women in rural areas will be comfortable going to an all-women branch. It will accelerate inclusive growth and recognize women’s power in society.”

– Brian Turner

Source Economic Times
Photo Beyond Brics

State_Department_Southeast_Asia_Tech_Science
Over the last few years, the U.S. Department of State has worked to encourage young girls throughout Southeast Asia to utilize their skills for careers in math, science, technology, and engineering.

The program, called Tech Age Girls (TAG), is “leveraging communications technology to connect young women in Philippines and Vietnam with learning resources and mentors,” according to the State Department.

In January, the State Department held the first TAG conference in Hanoi, hosting 30 talented young girls out of a pool of 376 applicants, from Vietnam and the Philippines to participate in improving their digital communications and leadership skills. The girls also participated in mini-internships, and could consult with female mentors throughout the conference.

At the second conference, held in the Philippines, an additional 28 girls improved their knowledge of communications relating to increasing globalization, and also received information on career opportunities and community service projects.

The State Department hopes that by providing the girls with positive mentors and the tools to pursue careers in fields where females are underrepresented through the TAG program, they will be able to positively impact their own communities throughout Southeast Asia.

Christina Kindlon

Source: US State Department

 

 

Women Entrepreneurs: The Answer to Poverty?Last week, President Barack Obama highlighted the charge to the American public to assist in the eradication of extreme global poverty. When the world’s poor rise out of poverty and live better, the world is positively affected and inequality is decreased. The United States benefits both economically and in terms of security when more people escape poverty.

Where then should the US apply its funds to attain this ultimate goal of eliminating poverty?

One area is entrepreneurship. There has been widespread micro-success in small-scale businesses in Liberia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The access and pursuit of consistent incomes for families allow for poverty alleviation. The increase in incomes allows for greater economic opportunity via safer and healthier living conditions, as well as better access to education.

Funding the endeavors of entrepreneurship in developing countries is a critical part of this answer. The large scale US corporations of Coca Cola, Dell, Exxon Mobil, and Goldman Sachs are alongside governmental leaders in the push for small-scale entrepreneur funding. Furthermore, the growing focus on women’s entrepreneurial capabilities and access to self-improvement are crucial for development. These large corporations aid in the training of more women entrepreneurs.

The Cherie Blair Foundation is a non-governmental organization that focuses on providing personal aid to women. They encourage the participation of more women in local markets and technology processes.

The largest challenges to women entering the entrepreneur field are the “access to finances, markets, and skills-building and networks.” Therefore, the fight to involve women and create a more fluid environment for women participation is crucial to fighting such a large part of global poverty.

Nigeria and Ghana are good examples, where recently more women than men are starting businesses. Sub-Saharan Africa is not far behind.

The strides being taken to put women in pertinent roles of small businesses and markets are helping combat global poverty. Yet, there is much to be done and the US is fully capable of helping women, men, and children across the globe to attain greater access to resources.

Evan Walker

Source: Huffington Post
Photo: CSMonitor