1. Current Status of the World's Women and Girls
|Current Status of the World's Women and Girls
Donna Clifton and Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs
Population Reference Bureau - March 2011
© 2011 Population Reference Bureau
Reprinted with Permission
March 8, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, an occasion to look back on past struggles and accomplishments, look forward to the opportunities that await future generations of women, and continue to work for meaningful change.
Download The World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet (PDF: 684KB)
Download a Fact Sheet about The World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet (PDF: 508KB)
Download The World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet (PowerPoint: 512KB) Drawing on PRB's The World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet, this PowerPoint presentation is designed to bring attention to and present accurate data on fertility, contraceptive use, early marriage, gender-based violence, and more. The presentation includes data comparisons within and among countries, as well as trends. Notes are included.
Listen to an interview with Nafis Sadik, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in Asia/Pacific and former Executive Director of UNFPA.
PRB Women's Edition Journalists' Stories, Features, and Photos on International Women's Day from Malawi, Nigeria, and Pakistan
March 8, 2011, marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. The past 100 years has witnessed much progress but there remains an unfinished agenda in many regions of the world. International Women's Day traces its roots back to the second International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen in 1910. Over 100 female delegates from 17 countries voted unanimously that every year, in every country, the same day should be observed to call attention to their needs. The first International Women's Day was launched the following year in 1911, nearly a decade before women in the United States would even have the right to vote.
International Women's Day has taken on a broader meaning for women in both developed and developing countries. Thanks to the growing international women's movement, bolstered by four global United Nations women's conferences, the day now signifies a time to build support for women's rights and equality in a number of arenas, including education, economics, and politics. The theme of this year's International Women's Day is "Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women."
Gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the heart of many national and international commitments, including the UN Millennium Development Goals, but progress has been uneven and sluggish. While some developing regions have reached or are approaching gender parity in youth literacy and secondary school enrollment, challenges lie ahead for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and Western and South Central Asia.
Despite legal means, early marriage (before the age of 18) persists, along with the associated risks of adolescent childbearing. Early marriage can also curtail the opportunities girls may have for education. In countries and regions with the highest proportions of early marriage, girls' educational attainment is adversely affected. Literacy rates, primary school completion, and secondary school enrollment are all lower than that of boys.
In developing countries, 35 percent of women ages 20 to 24 report having been married by age 18. And, in the poorest regions of the world, according to The World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet, the proportion is even higher, with levels ranging from 45 percent in South Central Asia to nearly 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Nine countries have prevalence rates above 50 percent.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the total fertility rate (TFR) is 5.2 children per woman, the highest of any world region. But, in countries such as Mali, Niger, Somalia, and Uganda, where use of family planning is relatively low, the TFR is closer to seven children per woman. Lack of partner support is often cited as a reason for not using family planning, more evidence of women's lack of decisionmaking power.
In Kenya, for example, the TFR is 4.7 children per woman. However, even in the same country, women and men have diverse views about ideal family size, ranging from three children among women in the wealthiest 20 percent of the population, to six children among men in the poorest 20 percent.
There have been many successes to celebrate over the last hundred years, but challenges still remain in overcoming barriers to gender equality. International Women's Day is an occasion to look back on past struggles and accomplishments, look forward to the opportunities that await future generations of women, and continue to work for meaningful change.
Donna Clifton is communications specialist, International Programs, and Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs is program director, Gender, at the Population Reference Bureau.
2. A Centenary of Celebrations?
A Centenary of Celebrations?
Botswana Gazzette - 16 March 2011
Credit: The Botswana Gazette (Dr Emmanuel Botlhale)
Reprinted with Permission
On 8 March 2011, Botswana joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Women's Day (IWD). This year's IWD is special; it is the 100th. Naturally, one would like to look back and ask, ‘do we have reason to celebrate?' Amongst numerous variables, we chose to focus on women's economic rights; thus, ‘has Botswana achieved gender equality in resource allocation?'
To usefully digress, the celebration of the IWD is traceable to 1908 when 15,000 women marched in New York City demanding, amongst other things, shorter working hours and better wages. The crusade got impetus in 1910 when the IWD was adopted at the International Conference of Working Women that was held in Copenhagen.
Notably, the IWD was conceived during a period when women were not part of the development planning trajectory; they were invisible in resource allocation exercises (Young, 2003).
Instructively, even during the 1st UN Decade of Development [1960-1970], they were invisible, hence, this led to women conferences; the first was held in Mexico City in 1975.
The theme was Equality, Development and Peace and 1975 was declared the International Year of Women. Other women's conferences followed: 2nd (1980; Copenhagen), 3rd (1985; Nairobi) and 4th (1995; Beijing). Subsequent to the conferences, some conventions were born: e.g., the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Commonwealth Plan of Action (2000-5).
Mainstream literature [e.g., Young, 1993; UN, 2001, UNFPA (2006), Jain, 2005, Diop, 2005 etc] holds that, generally, there is a disconnect between intention and outcome; i.e., gender interventions have not resulted in improved women's welfare. All the same, there have been improvements, particularly in political representation (see Mmegi, 09/03/10 – Botswana records progress in gender equality).
Botswana, likewise, has jumped into the bandwagon and, therefore, signed and ratified national [e.g., 1997's National Policy on Women and Development], regional [e.g., 1997's SADC Gender and Development Declaration) and international (e.g., 1996's ratification of CEDAW) gender-levelling instruments. Although the official position is that the country has posted gender gains (e.g., Mmegi, 09/03/10; BOPA, 12/03/08 -- Mogae calls for gender equity), challenges remain; e.g., failure to set a 30 per cent quota for women representation in local authorities, party structures and National Assembly by the year 2005.
To end, according to the SADC Gender Protocol 2010 Barometer, Botswana scored 55% in the gender score card (Gender Links, 2010). Certainly, 55% is a very low score; unquestionably, we can, and should, do better. Thus, as we celebrate the 100th IWD, there is a need to re-examine our commitment to the gender cause.
Hence, we must ratify the SADC Gender and Development Protocol that we demurred to ratify arguing that ‘we are uncomfortable with a lot of things in the document' and that ‘the document is full of such expressions as the parties shall, we shall amend the laws and we know that in our country there is only one authority which can amend the law. And that is Parliament (Robert 2008:8).'
3. Egypt's Revolution Through the Eyes of Five Women
Egypt's Revolution Through the Eyes of Five Women,|
Bill Law, BBC News, 13 April 2011
Reprinted with Permission
The Egyptian revolution did not occur out of the blue.
Activists, male and female, have for years been pushing for change.
Here, five women who helped to shape and define the revolution - a young blogger, the daughter of a powerful Muslim Brother, a Coptic Christian doctor, a persecuted democracy activist and a labour organiser - explain what it means to them.
Dalia Ziada fears that some of the gains of Tahrir Square are already being lost
When I first met Dalia she was a wide-eyed cyber activist determined to use her blogs to secure rights for all Egyptians but especially for women. Now, three years on, she is a veteran blogosphere campaigner.
But it was when she was in Tahrir Square standing shoulder to shoulder with a poor, uneducated woman that she realised she was part of something bigger.
"I asked this woman why she had come and she said 'for change', and then I knew the revolution had begun."
But disillusionment has set in. "During the revolution, it didn't matter if you were young or old, a man or a woman. The only thing that mattered was that you were Egyptian.
"Now we are back to our differences, you are a man, you are a woman, we are told we should not be mingling, and not talk about everything as before."
"It brings disappointment and fear to my heart, actually."
Zaahra al-Shatter, daughter of a Muslim Brother, demonstrated daily on Tahrir Square
The last time I saw Zaahra, a mother of three, was in March 2008.
A school administrator, she had just seen her father and husband - both members of the then banned Muslim Brotherhood - seized in a night raid.
She was resolute in her determination to fight for their release, petitioning the government relentlessly, and appealing to the media.
Now they are out, she has shifted her energies to education: "The greatest thing about this revolution is that it has given the children of Egypt hope and freedom."
She says she is "encouraging the children to think in a different way, to do different projects, to believe in different values. It is very important."
Dr. Mona Mina still fights for better health provision, as well as the political revolution
Mona Mina, a Christian, is the leader of an organisation called Doctors Without Rights.
For years she has fought for better pay and working conditions for doctors. Under President Mubarak, repression and corruption made that an unwinnable fight.
Now she is seizing the opportunity. She was at Tahrir Square, but she worries that the revolution could be stolen, that the old ways will simply find new ways to reassert themselves.
"The feeling of liberation has started, but it is not complete yet. It's the first step in a long road, there are still many things that need to happen for real liberation."
And she says that she and the other Tahrir Square protesters will, if necessary, "shed blood to keep the revolution alive."
Gameela Ismail will run for parliament this time
Gameela Ismail was a popular television presenter, when she and her then husband Ayman Nour openly challenged Hosni Mubarak.
Ayman Nour ran for president and lost. He was stripped of parliamentary immunity and thrown in jail.
The couple's bank accounts were frozen. Gameela was sacked from her job and subjected to years of harassment as she campaigned for his release.
She is proud of what Egyptians have accomplished, comparing it to the fall of the Berlin Wall. "We made a revolution on our own - the people of Egypt owe no-one."
And now, "for the first time, it's our country, not their [the regime's] country.
"Walking in the streets now is completely different to before, the feeling that for the first time the street is yours, the neighbourhood is yours, the country is yours."
Gameela is running for parliament in the elections scheduled for later this year.
Ayesha Abdul Aziz hopes to continue her fight for better schools and hospitals
Ayesha is a farmer in the Nile Delta and a labour organiser. In her household unmarried Ayesha sits at the head of the table. In this and in so many other ways she is different from most rural women.
In 2008, she led a strike to win equal pay for female tobacco factory workers.
She won that fight against the odds. But last year she lost an attempt win a seat in parliament, in blatantly rigged elections.
She will run again in the elections scheduled for later this year. Win or lose, she will fight for better schools, better hospitals, for decent roads and clean water.
"I am a woman and thank God I know my rights."
But she does not think that a woman will ever become president of Egypt.
"No, no, no, that is not an issue for me. Egypt is so tough, it really needs a man to run it."
4. Women as Key Players in Climate Adaptation
Global debates identify the need to mainstream gender into climate change analysis, in relation to risk analysis, perceptions of vulnerability, experiences and coping mechanisms. The justification for this is that gender often dictates who gains and who loses in environmental disasters.
A London School of Economics study of disasters in 141 countries shows that gender differences in deaths from natural disasters are
directly linked to women's economic and social rights. Where women lack basic rights, more will die from natural disasters than men;
where they enjoy equal rights, the death rate is the same. Further statistics reveal the real issues around
gender and climate change adaptation. Women provide up to 90 percent of rural poor people's
food and produce 60-80 percent of the food in most developing countries.
But women are insufficiently represented in decisionmaking processes on climate change, for example community adaptation and mitigation strategies. Women must be included, because they can contribute different perspectives and experiences. Continue reading ...
ENERGIA: International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy
Published under a Creative Commons License
ENERGIA's goal is to contribute to the empowerment of women - both rural and urban - through a specific focus on energy.
ENERGIA is the international network on gender and sustainable energy, founded in 1995. We work in Africa and Asia through and with our regional and national gender and energy networks. We work from the contention that projects, programmes and policies that explicitly address gender and energy issues will result in better outcomes, in terms of the sustainability of energy services as well as the human development opportunities available to women and men.
Founded in 1995 by a group of committed women who provided energy inputs to the Beijing Conference on Women, ENERGIA was to act against the inadequate recognition of gender issues as a legitimate area of concern in energy policy and practice at that time. ENERGIA works from the contention that projects, programs and policies that explicitly address gender and energy issues will result in better outcomes, in terms of the sustainability of energy services as well as the human development opportunities available to women and men.
Growing strong as a network
The network has grown into a strong, dynamic, and active body, and has become the institutional base from which actions were taken to integrate gender issues into energy access policies and projects. There now are 22 national gender and energy networks, coordinated by National Focal Points, of which are 13 in Africa and 9 in Asia. These two regional networks are led by Regional Network Coordinators, with support and backstopping from the International Secretariat, which is hosted by ETC Foundation in the Netherlands and which is responsible for overall management and coordination of activities of the network.
Expanding scope of work
These activities have expanded over time. During the initial years, ENERGIA News, a magazine on gender and energy issues, was the main product and 'backbone' of the network. Later, the network has earned a clear visibility and standing at the international level, through participation and active contributions to international policy events, advice on gender and energy issues to international institutions, and substantive research on the subject. ENERGIA was successful in putting gender and energy issues on the agendas of multilateral and bilateral development agencies in the energy sector. ENERGIA has grown in influence through its international policy influencing and advocacy activities, and its knowledge centre on gender and energy.
Change in direction of activities
Over time, ENERGIA has been faced with demands for technical advice on how to integrate gender concerns into energy projects and into national policies. As the available generic gender tools did not appear to be appropriate for the energy sector, ENERGIA developed unique training modules and tools to promote gender mainstreaming in the energy sector. In more recent years, it is increasingly being realized that greater attention to the needs and concerns of women in energy policies and programmes could help governments promote overall development goals of poverty alleviation, employment, health, education and women's empowerment. One of the principal barriers for ENERGIA has been the lack of gender and energy expertise at all levels, capable of providing assistance on gender integration and mainstreaming into policies and projects.
This has led to a change in direction of ENERGIA's activities since 2007. Where until then the majority of activities were directed at the international level, now the majority of activities take place within member countries. This change was led by a strong voice of ENERGIA's membership, who successfully called for more impact within their countries. The four main strategies along which ENERGIA is currently working are:
- Capacity building
- Gender mainstreaming in energy projects/markets
- Policy influencing
With these strategies, ENERGIA made another shift: that from mainly showing why gender mainstreaming is crucial, to mainly demonstrating and building capacities of how to mainstream gender into energy projects and policies.
ENERGIA's unique approach is to combine capacity building of network members in Africa and Asia with applying the acquired skills and knowledge in policies and projects.
See also the Dimitra Project: Gender, Rural Women, and Development
5. UN Women and the WomenWatch Web Site
UN Women and the WomenWatch Web Site
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Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women
|WomenWatch Special Features
6. Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security
Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security:|
Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs
Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Evelin Lindner, HumanDHS, 2010
The Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security book is being "highly recommended" by Choice as follows (in July 2010): "In this far-ranging, sometimes brilliant book, Lindner (Columbia Univ. and Oslo Univ.) studies the social and political ramifications of human violations and world crises related to humiliation, defined as the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that harms or removes the dignity, pride, and honor of the other.
A "transdisciplinary social scientist," the author charts how humiliation--and its antidote, love--are conditioned by large-scale, systemic social forces such as globalization. The force of this book resides in its construction of a compelling, compassionate alternative to the psychological effects of humiliation on gender and sexual relations, parenthood, and leadership. For Lindner, this alternative is not only love but also its psychological correlate, humility, both of which can become the basis of the social, political, and cultural change necessary to reform the harmful global tendency toward humiliation.
Lindner's philosophy is avowedly non-dualist and rooted in ancient Eastern wisdom. A powerful follow up to her Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict (CH, March 2007, 44-4114), this book appears in the "Contemporary Psychology" series; it will be indispensable for psychologists, humanists, and political scientists and invaluable to policy makers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. -- M. Uebel, University of Texas" (Choice is a publication of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association)
7. Plight of Japanese Astronaut and her Family
Plight of Japanese astronaut, husband illustrate need for gender equality|
Chikako Kobayashi, The Mainichi Daily News, Japan, 19 April 2011
Copyright 2011 The Mainichi Newspapers. Republished with permission.
This article originally appeared in The Mainichi Daily News
In commemoration of International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8, Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki and her husband, Taichi, shared the struggles they faced as a family in the years leading up to Naoko's mission on the space shuttle Discovery in spring 2010 to a packed auditorium in Tokyo.
organizations, as well as a stay-at-home dad -- said that the family was still living among unpacked boxes. "It'll probably be about a year before we're settled," Taichi said.
Most striking about their recent talk, part of a UN symposium entitled "Josei ga chikyu o genki ni suru" (Women make Earth a vibrant place), was that the insufficiency of the current measures being taken toward gender equality was underscored by the experiences of a couple in which a woman's career was pursued at the expense of her husband's.
Asked what he has been up to since he and his family moved back to Japan last December, Taichi -- himself an aerospace engineer, an entrepreneur heading space-technology companies and
The past decade has been a trying one for the Yamazaki family. Naoko and Taichi married, had a daughter, traveled extensively -- for astronaut training in Naoko's case, and to raise their
daughter in the U.S. and take care of his ailing parents in Japan in Taichi's, made countless other sacrifices, and narrowly avoided divorce.
Like many people, Naoko wanted to create the right balance between family and career. "Looking into astronauts' workloads, I figured that as long as my first two years of training were completed before I became pregnant, I could follow through with my training."
As it turned out, however, carrying out her plan was much harder for her family than she'd expected. After Naoko took maternity leave from the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) -- which has since been merged with two other organizations to form the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) -- to give birth to their daughter, she and Taichi took turns on childcare leave. Taichi found himself extremely isolated as a stay-at-home-parent, as most of the homemakers he knew were women and he felt that any grievances he voiced about his wife and her job would turn the women against him.
It was around this time that Naoko left for Russia for training. Taichi credited his employer and colleagues for making it possible for him to continue working full time for a NASDA subcontractor, raise their young daughter, and help care for his elderly parents during this time.
"It was like I was taking care of three children, and the person I wanted to lean on -- my wife -- was away," Taichi said. "If it hadn't been for the support of my colleagues, I would've died."
Naoko's employer, meanwhile, suggested that the couple was free to make their own choices, albeit none that would allow her to simultaneously pursue her career and spend more time with her family. "They would say, 'Sure, you can dedicate yourself to your family, but that means you won't go on a space mission,'" Taichi said.
"I was stuck in the middle," Naoko said. "I would be attacked from this side (family) and when I tried to consult with my employers, they told me these were problems that should be dealt within the family."
So how did Naoko deal with it?
"I constantly apologized," Naoko said. "I wasn't the only one, though. A male colleague of mine once told me that he apologized to his family for everything that went wrong to make up for pursuing his career -- whether it rained, the dog barked, or a meal tasted awful, he took the blame."
Upon arriving in Houston, Texas, for Naoko's training at NASA, the Yamazakis were struck by the support provided to families by the U.S. space agency.
"They had an entire department dedicated to caring for astronauts' families," Naoko said. "It wasn't based on purely altruistic motivations -- it was based on the understanding that a stable family life would improve astronaut productivity."
"There was no such support when we were in Japan," Taichi added. "Here, if we were to come down with a cold and give it to Naoko, we would've been blamed for interfering with an important state project."
Taichi had quit his job in Japan after months of trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a way to keep it while he was in the U.S., and he could not acquire a new job because of his visa status as the spouse of a diplomatic visa holder. "My wife would go to work, our daughter would go to daycare, and I'd find myself at home wondering what in the world I was doing."
It was not that Naoko had neglected her family altogether, however. At one point, she was left alone with her daughter in the U.S. while Taichi was in Japan to take care of his parents. "I would train all day, sometimes early in the morning or late at night, and wake up at around 3 a.m. to do housework," Naoko said. "I constantly kept some water trickling from the faucet so that if I were to have a brain hemorrhage, my daughter would at least be able to drink some water."
Taichi, however, still resented having to put his career on hold while Naoko moved forward with hers. Feeling as if the only way he would be freed from his burdens was death or divorce, Taichi suggested that the couple seek court mediation. Things started to change after they began discussions under the guidance of an objective third party. Naoko said she started to reconcile with the possibility that she may never make it to space, which gave her a certain level-headedness that helped her to see her husband's side of the story.
Talk moderator Keiko Hamada, the deputy editor of weekly magazine Aera, pointed out that the hardships of wives (and a husband, in the case of Chiaki Mukai, the first Japanese woman in space) and other family members of Japanese astronauts had heretofore been relatively unknown.
"It is because traditional gender roles were reversed in your case and you have spoken up, that we've come to learn how grueling the experience can be," she said. "I think your situation is not unlike what many families of those employed by private corporations go through, including the mentality that sacrificing the family for work is unavoidable.
"The messages that working women have tried to communicate may be more accessible to men when the message comes from men such as yourself, Taichi, and for that, I am grateful."
For years, women have been expected to tolerate circumstances similar to the one that made Taichi resentful toward Naoko's pursuit of her dream. While we've come a long way in the 100 years since International Women's Day was first observed in Europe, that it takes the voice of a man to convince society of the questionability of such expectations shows we still have a ways to go.
8. Rising Tide: Gender equality & cultural change around the world
"The twentieth century gave rise to profound changes in traditional sex roles. However, the force of this rising tide has varied among rich and poor societies around the globe, as well as among younger and older generations. Rising Tide sets out to understand how modernization has changed cultural attitudes towards gender equality and to analyze the political consequences of this process. The core argument suggests that women and men's lives have been altered in a two-stage modernization process consisting of (i) the shift from agrarian to industrialized societies and (ii) the move from industrial towards post industrial societies. This book is the first to systematically compare attitudes towards gender equality worldwide, comparing almost 70 nations that run the gamut from rich to poor, agrarian to postindustrial. Rising Tide is essential reading for those interested in understanding issues of comparative politics, public opinion, political behavior, political development, and political sociology."
SAMPLE OF RECENT NEWS ABOUT THE RISING TIDE:
East Asia May Get its First Woman President, Dennis Engbarth, IPS, 3 May 2011.
Arab International Women's Forum commemorates 10th anniversary, Zawya, 2 May 2011.
Fight poverty, invest in girls, UNESCO Bangkok Press, Bangkok, Thailand, 2 May 2011.
WROC gets award for the elimination of gender-based violence, Lionel Rookwood, Jamaica Observer, 2 May 2011.
Raufa Hassan, precious philanthropist dies at 53, Zaid al-Alaya’a, The Yemen Observer, 30 April 2011.
Asia's 734M women vital economic bloc, Bernice Camille V. Bauzon, The Manila Times, Philippines, 30 April 2011.
Losses Related To Gender Bias, The Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka, 30 April 2011.
Women Role Models in the Digital Age, Cheryl Miller, Zen Digital, Brussels, 29 April 2011.
Asia has the chance to tackle gender inequality in labor, ADB, 29 April 2011.
Gender head on Malawi’s progress, Frazer Potani, Africa News, Lilongwe, Malawi, 28 April 2011.
Recession Seen Taking Toll on Gender Equality, New York Times, 26 April 2011.
Female Film Roles Still Secondary, According to New Study, ABC News, USA, 22 April 2011.
Women Key to Greening the Economy, Aline Cunico, IPS, 22 April 2011.
Gender Inequality Persists Behind Closed Doors, IPS, Havana, Cuba, 20 April 2011.
African Women Meet Over Gender Equality, Empowerment, All Africa News, Harare, Zimbabwe, 12 April 2011.
Panel of experts to undertake 'gender equality audit' of defence force, The Australian, 12 April 2011.
Mullahs in Bangladesh clash with police over gender equality rules,
AHN, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 5 April 2011.
9. Gender Equality Video by the European Commission