The Girl Effect

Ethiopia has made important progress in ending child marriage in the past five years. Still, 63% of Ethiopian girls are married by the age of 18 – where they don’t have a strong voice within their communities and are generally not recognised as sources of knowledge or solutions.

Following are infographics provided by The Girl Effect , on child marriage worldwide.

When we include girls in education, health and economic investment we have a better chance of preventing issues such as child marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty. But girls can’t do it alone; they need the world to listen to them and invest in their potential.

The Girl Effect was created by the Nike Foundation in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls. The project is focused on leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world; making girls visible and changing their social and economic dynamics by providing them with specific, powerful and relevant resources.

Get in touch with the work currently in action by The Girl Effect at http://www.girleffect.org/news/.

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Sheryl WuDunn & Half the Sky Movement

Journalist, lecturer and campaigner Sheryl WuDunn talks of denial to educate women in remote China, amongst other instances of global oppression – a voice to be heard.

That brings me to my first major of two tenets of “Half the Sky.” And that is that the central moral challenge of this century is gender inequity. In the 19th century, it was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. The cause of our time is the brutality that so many people face around the world because of their gender.

Within Our Reach

Within Our Reach is an incredible statement of every person’s ability to make a difference to a global issue – poverty – starting with awareness, which speaks for every campaign.

People need to stop seeing it as an issue of charity, and start seeing it as an issue of justice…charity is about feeling sorry for others and giving a handout. Justice is about realising that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the current situation, and that it needs to change.

With the passing of International Poverty Week, there has never been a better time to lead from the grassroots. For many young Australians, this meant leading the End Poverty Roadtrip by hitting the streets to transform the way that Australians think about the issue.

In publishing this, the words of Olivia Wilde emerged once again [see post Celebrity Initiative – Publicity or Inspiration? ];

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to the people who give money to charities. But I yearn for a better way, a more consistent way, to give…it’s a system where people think, ‘I’m going to live my life and not really think about the developing world, and then on Christmas, I’ll cut a check'”.

 

There is, of course, a high level of gratitude that must be an outcome for these individuals/organisations, who have taken one step more than others in donating money and time to make a difference.

But to what continual impact can this have on solving an issue of social injustice, if it is not accompanied by a permanent attitude, or motivation, to make a change? An impact that is especially reduced when governments are simultaneously making billion$ cuts in aid programs. This also means that any action to seek a solution is left to the philanthropists, charitable foundations or institutions – the ‘professionals’.

Yet recognition of social inequity does not require professionalism. Perhaps it is here that we arrive at a system that advocates money as the most effective [or only] means of reducing issues of poverty, gender inequality, indigenous rights (to name a few) on a global scale; personally, we believe this is where action merely begins.

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Tell us what you think on the debate of charity work – leave a comment today!

Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan – the UN Women response to gender alerts.

Working with national partners and UNESCO – the measures taken by The UN Women in South Sudan, to engage women in peace and security, support their economic empowerment, and establish their position in governance and leadership.

As part of a holistic, community-focused approach, UN Women is, among other things, supporting the construction of eight Women’s Empowerment Centres. It is also partnering with Skills for South Sudan to provide adult functional literacy programmes in these districts. See for yourself the impact these efforts are already having in two communities of the Western Equatoria state.

Bio: South Sudan, May 2014
Since the initial eruption of violence in December 2013, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated sharply in South Sudan. An estimated 959,000 people are internally displaced (of which 192,000 are in inaccessible areas) with an additional 293,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. As of yet, there is no reliable disaggregation of these figures based on sex and age.

The ongoing humanitarian response to the South Sudan crisis is challenged by many factors including the inadequate integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment as a central tenet in the overall response.

Although there is an understanding in principle of the distinct and separate needs of women, girls, boys and men of the affected population, many challenges exist with regards to undertaking specific gender and vulnerability analysis and implementing informed interventions.

The UN Women – committed to the realisation of a peaceful, just and prosperous South Sudan
Addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment begins with participation. Women and girls continue to struggle to make their voices heard and are increasingly marginalized by the overall humanitarian response. This is despite the fact that majority of the displaced people are women and children, and in some sites female-headed households far outnumber male-headed households. Leadership structures remain male dominated so that any of the community consultations on needs identification and programme planning that do take place therefore mostly neglect the specific concerns, priorities, and solutions for women and girls.

Data: UN Women & Inter-Agency Standing Committee (ISAC), press release, May 2014.
http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2014/5/humanitarian-crisis-in-south-sudan

Visions of African youth – injustice for men.

Sonke’s One Man Can Campaign uses PhotoVoice to Ensure that children’s needs are heard.

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Children across Africa, between the ages of 12 and 18, spoke about how they see themselves in their communities – their perceptions of adults, their understandings of gender and HIV/AIDS, and their experiences with service delivery, with school and sometimes with illness, abuse and hunger.

After the initial conversations, participants were trained in photography skills, writing and story development and ultimately transferred their stories into photography and writing.

Contrary to popular ideas of the oppressed female, their perceptions revealed the social injustices for men within communities; the roles and expectations placed upon fathers, as well as the implications of these for the social welfare of sons.

Sonke’s One Man Can Campaign found gender equality to be a new concept to all participating children, who grew up with the understanding that men and women have their own, separate roles to play in society.

“In rural communities boys are encouraged to be superior, strong and sexually active, so at first, neither boys nor girls understood what gender equality is,” says Nyanda Khanyile, Sonke PhotoVoice project manager. “They think it’s about giving privileges to girls.”

“I learnt many things,” says 15-year-old Thulane Shange. “I used to think boys and girls can’t do the same things. I thought girls have to clean, cook and do chores around the house, and boys have to fetch firewood and herd cattle.” He says he now understands that women can also be heads of households and should be given the same rights and responsibilities as men.

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Khanyile says he was particularly impressed by the fact that, when thinking about hopes and dreams, the children identified issues that could benefit the community as a whole, not only them: “I was amazed that the children chose far-reaching issues that affect everybody in their communities and their childhood development. None of them spoke about personal gain.”

A key focus of the project was the roles men play in children’s lives, including whether men – their fathers, uncles, teachers, religious and traditional leaders and government officials – are involved in caring and supporting them, particularly in the context of gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS.

It became apparent that most children have distanced relationships with their fathers, many of whom, due to high unemployment rates in the area, work in cities far away from Nkandla – Durban, Pietermaritzburg or Johannesburg – and return home only a few times a year.

“Fathers are largely absent in the children’s lives and are seen as fearful figures who earn the money and lay the law,” explains Nyanda Khanyile.

“Children have a closer relationship to their mothers and gogos who care for them, feed them and teach them values.”

In their PhotoVoice stories, some children said they wished their fathers were more involved in their lives and play a role, other than financial, in taking care of them. Others pointed out positive, male role models they knew in their community.

“We want to encourage ownership and participation and persuade adults to respond with action to children’s voices,” explains Khanyile.

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Credits to Kristin Pallitza.

http://www.genderjustice.org.za/

Kavita Ramdas: Radical Women, Embracing Tradition

Investing in women can unlock infinite potential around the globe. But how can women walk the line between Western-style empowerment and traditional culture? Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women talks about three encounters with powerful women who fight to make the world better — while preserving the traditions that sustain them.

“I was born and raised here in India, and I learned from an early age to be deeply suspicious of the aunties and uncles who would bend down, pat us on the head and then say to my parents with no problem at all, “Poor things. You only have three daughters. But you’re young, you could still try again”.

“And perhaps this is the ultimate gift of feminism, that the personal is in fact the political. So that, as Eleanor Roosevelt said once of human rights, the same is true of gender equality: that it starts in small places, close to home. On the streets, yes, but also in negotiations at the kitchen table and in the marital bed and in relationships between lovers and parents and sisters and friends. By integrating aspects of tradition and community into their struggles, [these women] are challenging the very notion of Western models of development.

They are saying, we don’t have to be like you to make change. We can wear a sari or a hijab or pants or a boubou, and we can be party leaders and presidents and human rights lawyers. We can use our tradition to navigate change. We can demilitarize societies and pour resources, instead, into reservoirs of genuine security”.

“In these little fragments, every now and again, you catch a glimpse of a whole new world”

A woman making a real change – against the most formidable odds

Malala Yousafzai. 17 years old, resisting the Taliban in Pakistan, demanding an education for young girls.

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At 11, Malala delivers a speech in Pakistan: How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?

At 12, Malala begins blogging for the BBC about living under the Taliban’s threats to deny her an education.

At 14, her activism results in her nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize.

At 14, Malala learns that the Taliban have issued a death threat against her.

October 9, 2012 – on her way home from school, a man boards the bus Malala is riding in, demanding for Malala to reveal her identity. Her friends look toward her, and the gunman fires, hitting Malala in the left side of her head. Two other girls are injured in the attack.

Malala is flown to a military hospital in Peshawar, where a portion of her skull is removed to treat her swelling brain. She is then transferred to Birmingham, England.

At 16, Malala begins attending school in Birmingham. She delivers a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, and writes her biography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

At 16, the European Parliament awards Malala the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Malala is later nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, though she does not win.

March 2014 – Malala is once again nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
In October 2014, Malala becomes the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She wins the prize along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

“She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment.” -Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

“A brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher.”
-U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

The Malala fund – supporting the education young girls across Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan and Kenya.

http://www.malala.org/

“I call upon the Nigerian government to protect these students, girls and boys who are suffering from terrorism. Bring home the girls who were kidnapped with no excuses”.

An honest inspiration to all, in making a positive difference to gender equality, globally – we thank you Malala, for your courageous human rights work.

Celebrity Initiative – Publicity or Inspiration?

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to the people who give money to charities,” Olivia Wilde says. “But I yearn for a better way, a more consistent way, to give.” It’s an odd sentiment coming from someone who spends as much time as Wilde does raising money, most prominently as a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice, which focuses on education, health care, and the arts in Haiti. But it’s also fitting that Wilde—who was born to journalist parents and whose big sister is a civil rights lawyer—would raise her voice against the philanthropic status quo. It’s a system, she says, “where people think: I’m going to live my life and not really think about the developing world, and then on Christmas, I’ll cut a check.”

It calls attention to social projects such as the A.L.S Ice Bucket challenge, receiving much criticism for its ‘weak alignment’ of the social media hook and line – the ice bucket – with charity information. This is despite a resulting $94.3+ million donated this year, compared to the $2.7 million donated at the same time in 2013.

So if it’s the difference between generating over $90 million in donations – and, well, not – perhaps we can forget the absence of a campaign briefing, and merely appreciate successful virality.

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Celebrities represent causes as much as products. Sometimes the PR publicity stunts are clearly distinctive to the genuine passion, other times, not. Daily, we see their faces represented – irritating us, inspiring us, prompting us.

Emma Watson generating remarkable virality in speaking for gender inequality as an issue concerning men.

Whatever the motive – these initiatives are not something to be critical of. Because in some way, they are an attempt at awareness, which certainly defeats an absence of such. And one can be critical of a lack of action for the cause – but would we be aware of this without (even failed) efforts? The point is not in the difficulty of controlling thought, or action, about a given subject, but the power that we have to prompt a consciousness altogether.

See:
http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/inspirational-women/olivia-wilde-women-changing-the-world?src=soc_fcbks
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/angelina-jolie-made-an-honorary-dame-by-queen-20141011-114klj.html
http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/2014/09/emma-watson-heforshe-allies?mbid=social_fbshare

Converting Care to Action – The A21 Campaign and IWDA

Heart In Hand are determined to show continual support for The IWDA and A21 Campaign, in generating awareness of – and planning action to reduce – the struggles of gender inequality in third world nations. Both campaigns have made a tremendous positive impact on a broad scope of human rights challenges, helping sufferers of discrimination worldwide.

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http://www.iwda.org.au/

The International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) – an Australian agency dedicated to identifying key drivers of good gender practice, as well as challenges for this. The agency works to secure the safety of women across Asia and the Pacific, as well as equal access to health and education.

Suzi Chinnery, IWDA Pacific Senior Program Manager talks to Rose about her personal journey.
“In 2009 I was involved in a nationwide study on domestic violence. When we started to disseminate the findings, talking about why women can’t leave [their partners], and the impact of this on children, it made me wonder about the future. Where are we headed if we continue at this rate? I believe in having women in leadership and decision-making. We come from cultures where women don’t raise their voices. You keep quiet even though things are pinching you. But the fact is – it’s not only affecting your family, it’s affecting the nation.”

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http://www.thea21campaign.org/index.php

The A21 Campaign seeks to prevent trafficking of youth through education of victims and suppliers of the human slave trade. A21 protects those who have been trafficked by building shelters and transition homes; A21 also works with local law enforcement, service providers and community members to prosecute traffickers and strengthen the legal response to human trafficking. The A21 campaign takes both general donations and monthly partnerships – here’s the great work the campaign is currently undertaking:

PREVENTION
Stop individuals from becoming victims of human trafficking by providing awareness, education to the next generation, and interupting the demand.
Education: Create education curriculum to educate potential victims of human trafficking in schools, orphanages, and universities. Young people are equipped with information and strategies to avoid becoming victims.
Awareness: Raise awareness about human trafficking within community groups, churches, and universities globally through the A21 Prevention and Awareness Program and the ShineHope human trafficking prevention program.

PROTECTION
Protect survivors of human trafficking by providing a safe environment and by running restoration programs in our aftercare facilities.

Rescue: Offer support to local law enforcement, FBI, and other governmental agencies in the areas of training, investigations, and data collection through our human trafficking hotlines.

Restoration: See survivors restored physically and emotionally. Provide education, vocational training, and repartriation assistance to equip them for a new and independent future.

PROSECUTION
Prosecute traffickers, provide survivors with legal council, and strengthen the legal response to human trafficking.

Enforcement: Provide access to legal council to the survivors in our care and offer representation for those victims who undertake criminal proceedings to prosecute traffickers.
Legislation: Guide changes to legislation that will provide a more comprehensive suit of laws and ensure traffickers are held accountable for their crimes.

PARTNERSHIPS
Partner with fundraising supporters, governmental agencies, and community members to see injustice abolished.
Supporters: Unite with abolitionists who desire to make a difference and provide training, education materials, and programs to be outworked in communities through A-Teams. Work together with monthly financial supporters who provide sustainable income so we are able to plan new prevention initiatives and assist more victims of human trafficking.
Partners: Collaborate and share information with law enforcement, government agencies, and local service providers to ensure the needs of human trafficking survivors are met.

Gender Gap – corporate West Vs. the third world

The gender gap – alive and unjustifiable. Statistics released by the United Nations Development Programme show Norway topping the index, with Yemen ranked the worst.

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http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/10/international_day_of_the_girl_map_shows_the_u_n_development_program_s_gender.html

A result of Europe’s efforts to close the gap? Or rather, evidence of deep-seated cultural differences?

Nordic countries provide the greatest equality for women when it comes to economics, education, politics and health. Equal pay, labour force participation rates, literacy rates, enrolment in tertiary education, female representation in parliament, life expectancy and sex ratios at birth are almost equal in Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Top 5 countries ranking most unequal

1. Yemen
2. Chad
3. Niger
4. Mali
5. Congo

By starting young and giving girls resources, they get more than just money and economic opportunity. Research shows that ownership of assets can have strong social and psychological impacts as well. And that is what girls need: more power over their lives, a new ownership over their futures, protection from inevitable shocks or pressures, and hope where none may have existed.