All posts filed under: Society

The Importance of Educating Girls

Blog post by Lisa Öhman, intern at Flickaplattformen This text is based on my final thesis for my bachelor in Development Studies. My thesis is a discourse analysis of texts collected from governmental development agencies, analysing their call on the importance of girls’ education. During the past decades, gender and education have become central elements in debates about development aid. Today, almost all international development organizations have included a gender perspective in their work. The reason why education for girls and gender equality have become such central parts of development aid can be traced to the many direct effects it has on economic growth and human welfare. It is often argued in development discourses that educating girls and women is an investment that is worthwhile. This view of girls’ education as a tool for development is often described as instrumentalism. This instrumentalist view on girls’ education has received criticism. The central argument against it is that girls’ education is only seen as being of importance due to its effect on development. I argue that the instrumental theory is …

Removing Barriers to the Fulfilment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

During this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I had the privilege of attending an event on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) promoted by EngenderHealth. The 2017 theme for the CSW was “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. It may seem as though the topic of sexual and reproductive health and rights does not fit into this theme, but in fact there is a strong link between economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive rights. For women to truly be able to enjoy economic empowerment and equality with men in the workforce and elsewhere, they need to be given the information they need to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive choices. Unplanned pregnancies during adolescence, contracting an STI, HIV/AIDS, and having to deal with the complications of childbirth are all examples of situations that put women at a disadvantage to men economically and in the workforce. With the proper knowledge and access to services, women, starting at a young age, can be empowered to take charge of their bodies …

The Power and Influence of Mothers-in-Law in Lesotho

We have all heard the stories of ‘monsters-in-law’ when a group of women get talking about their husbands’ mothers. Some women are blessed with mothers-in-law who treat them as respected family members, while others struggle with finding balance between two of the most important women in a man’s life. In Lesotho (southern Africa), this same dichotomy exists, but the ‘monsters-in-law’ are creating consequences far more severe than whose lasagna is preferred, or who will host Christmas dinner. When we think about achieving gender equity, many of us assume that men are holding girls and women back through patriarchal norms. But mothers-in-law are women – and they have traditionally been one of the greatest hindrances to empowering women in Lesotho. When a man and woman get married in Lesotho, it is traditional for the newlywed couple to live with the husband’s family for six months with no contact with the brides’ family. If she fails to meet her mother-in-law’s expectations, she will often be mocked and sometimes even abused. For many young women who enter into marriage …

The Girl Child Platform is going to CSW

For the second year in a row the Girl Child Platform is going to the UN:s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The 61st session of CSW begins on March 13th and continues for two weeks. Representatives from UN member states, UN agencies and nonprofit organizations from all over the world will participate in the sessions. The theme of this year’s session is “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. Today the labour market is in many ways unequal. Women often have lower salaries and inferior benefits than men. Men are also more often in power positions than women. However, this year’s theme is also important for young girls and not only adult women. Reports by The Adolescent Girls Advocacy and Leadership Initiative indicate that teenage girls represent the most economically vulnerable group in the world. Above all the problem remains that women and girls do a lot more unpaid work, like taking care of the household and the family. In many cases this workload leads to girls having to …

Does International Women’s Day Deserve to be an Official Ukrainian Holiday?

8th March, for most in the world, marks an average day.  International Women’s Day (IWD) is often acknowledged but not truly celebrated. It’s mentioned on the news or acknowledged by a local women’s non-governmental organizations, but it could easily be missed if you’re not looking for it. In Ukraine, as well as many other countries of the former USSR, International Women’s Day is widely celebrated. From little girls to older ladies, each and every woman is given flowers and cards to celebrate. But in the months leading up to the 2017 celebration of IWD, public opinion and debate have shifted. The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory published a bill which proposed the removal of International Workers’ Day (May 1-2) as well as International Women’s Day (March 8) from the list of official state holidays. To understand why anyone would propose the removal of IDW, you must first understand the history. The holiday first appeared in the United States and was organized by the Socialist Party of America to commemorate the strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers. On 22 November …

Shattering the Norm and Creating a New Future for Adolescent Girls

Written by Marcela Lopez-Macedonio, President & CEO of The Resource Foundation “As a girl, all I knew was housekeeping. I was the only girl at home and I had to wash all my brothers’ clothes. In school, I wasn’t allowed to participate in all the activities because I was a girl,” explains Belkis, a 39-year-old mother in Corbano Sur, Dominican Republic. Belkis shared her story during a parents’ meeting held as part of the Girls’ Education and Empowerment Regional Program, an initiative co-created by The Resource Foundation (TRF) and Johnson & Johnson in 2016.  Her story is not unlike those of many other women across Latin America. The choice to go to school, to start a family, to work – these were not decisions Belkis made for herself, but rather the products of generations of customs, traditions, and circumstances surrounding the roles and rights of women and girls. While significant strides have been made in Latin America, the challenges that Belkis faced as a girl and adolescent persist. Forced marriage, early pregnancy, and violence are …

The Young Women of the Ukrainian Government

The Ukrainian Revolution of 2014, also known as the Euromaidan Revolution, induced a widespread series of changes to the sociopolitical systems of Ukraine. This self-organized revolution was focused on ensuring closer ties to the European Union while also working to dispel corruption within Ukraine, starting with the removal and exiling of Ukraine’s president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych. One of the most significant changes was the installation of a new government filled a great number of inexperienced and idealistic youth. But as time progressed it became clear that the criticism faced by these young politicians and bureaucrats has fallen mainly on the women holding these positions of power. The question for Ukraine is how it will handle the upheaval of its traditionally male-dominated political landscape? In Mid-November 2016, 24-year old Anastasia Deeva was appointed to the position of Deputy Minister of the Interior, becoming the youngest person to hold a post of a Deputy Minister in Ukraine. The decision by Arsen Avakov, Minister of Interior, to appoint the young 24-year old to such a high level …

Encouraging Girls to Take on the World through Education Centres in India

Offering girls basic education is one sure way of giving them much greater power – of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. This is not a luxury. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women establish it as a basic human right. So why is it that despite proving to be a blessing to society the girl child is – in the worst case scenario – killed in the womb, or otherwise allowed to breathe but only the air of negligence, discrimination and deprivation? Today, we’re not only proud of great women of science like Sunita Williams, or women who’ve acted as agents of change like Sarojini Naidu, or  women who’ve taught us what it means to be human like Mother Teresa, but we also encourage such people to come forward and reform our world. Why is it that even though we claim to be the biggest democracy in the world we simply cannot destroy the …

A Beginner’s Guide to Stopping Time

This piece was written by Julia Z. – a high school student from the United States of America. All opinions are her own. We hear our grandparents say it. Preach it. Sitting around a crackling fire surrounded by family. Those wise with age warn those who listen eagerly – live while you’re young, enjoy every moment, time moves so fast. We hear the poets telling us to seize the day. Time is an enigmatic topic that attracts scholars, academics, and even inexperienced teenagers like myself. Is it possible that when people tell us to seize the day, they really are warning us to retain our innocence for as long as the universe will allow? Innocence is lost when the weight of the world is suddenly shifted onto the shoulders of an unsuspecting child. Burden, struggle, and responsibility are what make you transform from an innocent child to an adult who wears stress on his or her face like a child wears a smile. What I am describing hit me on a recent trip to Ethiopia. …

Standing Up for Girls in the Time of Trump

Trump is threatening the rights and well-being of adolescent girls domestically and globally, especially those whose skin color, religion and country of origin do not meet his approval. The person holding the most powerful and prestigious office in one of the most influential global nations is a sex offender who fetishes his daughter, believes “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing” and views girls and women as a sum of their sexual parts. He is now turning this disgusting misogyny and racism, xenophobia and many other forms of hate, into policy. My work as an advocate for girls just got a lot harder. My work, like all work, begins at home. I visibly resist hate for and with my own daughters, two immigrants of color who are growing up in a time when integral parts of their identity are being challenged. They, and all girls in my life, must see me modeling contested truths: black lives matter, native lives matter and refugee lives matter; women’s rights are human rights; no human being …