4 the World blog

Empowering collaborative communities

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LRA Research to Practice Episode on Gender. A must watch if you are a classroom teacher!


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Reducing violence against women

The statistics are devastating. 7 in 10 women have experienced physical violence. 1 in 4 women around the world has experienced rape or attempted rape. A woman is murdered by an intimate partner every day, EVERY DAY.  Between 1 and 2 million girls and women are being held as sex slaves RIGHT NOW. More statistics are reported by the UN http://www.un.org/en/women/endviolencInternational day for the elimination of violence against women November 25 logoe/situation.shtml

One of 4 the World’s programs is educating girls with the hope that education will empower them to be able to provide a livelihood for themselves, to make well-informed decisions, and to be better mothers.  The research also shows that education and empowerment helps reduce violence against women.  But the education cannot stop with just girls.  In order for violence against women to be eradicated, men must also be educated and feel empowered.  If women are empowered but not the men, that can backfire.  Men, feeling threatened, may lash out at women.  Research has shown this effect in response to micro loans to women in Southeast Asia and literacy education in the Americas. Remember Malala’s story? Educating women is not the magical pill.  It is not easy and it has severe, sometimes deadly, unintended consequences.

We have to change an entire human history (with few exceptions) of patriarchy. It seems impossible that this could change in my lifetime, but the institution of slavery collapsed.  That isn’t to say that racism is over or that there is not slavery today.  But, the world did change. The institution of imperialism collapsed.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t still colonialist attitudes or that there aren’t residual problems still today.  But, the world did change.  We have to believe that the institution of patriarchy can collapse and with it people’s attitudes about violence against women can change.  We have to believe it is possible!

To show your support for women, wear ORANGE on the 25th of November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action#sthash.5kCHMTEQ.dpuf

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Do you think there are more males or more females in the world? In Europe and the West, when women and men have equal access to food and health care, there are more women, we live longer. But in most of the rest of the world, that’s not the case. In fact, demographers have shown that there are anywhere between 60 million and 100 million missing females in the current population.

Sheryl WuDunn, author of Half the Sky, addresses the issue of missing girls.  Girls are missing in our world because they are not taken care of at the same level as boys.  Girl babies are abandoned, girl children are sold, and the girls’ lives are never recorded.  They are missing because they are probably dead.  This cannot continue.  We must educate girls and boys on the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity, regardless of ethnicity, ability, or gender.  We must open our eyes and see that gender equality has not been reached, not in the U.S. and certainly not in other places in the world.  This January, instead of a resolution, let’s start a revolution.  A revolution for gender equality.

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Smart Girls = Smart Investment

The Girl Effect is the exponential effect that education of one girl can have on a family, a community, and the world. See CARE’s explanation of the girl effect with this side-show.

Rauol Davion, associate director of Girls’ Education at the MacArthur Foundation, explains that investing in a girl’s education gives more return on investment than any other development investment. Watch this video to learn why.

Want to do your part? 4 the World gives secondary education scholarships to girls in Belize, Guatemala, Myanmar, and India. Vist 4theworld.org to donate securely. Smart investment = smart girls = smart world.

Malala Day a New Day for All

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The UN declared July 12, 2013 Malala Day. Malala was shot by the Taliban for speaking up for girls’ education. She claims, “Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl, who have raised their voice for their rights.” May her pain not be in vain. Let us work together to help every child receive an education. Being shot in the head did not silence Malala. Let her bravery inspire us all to bravely do what we have never done before: be that give deeply, speak freely, or care fully.

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Educational Statistics

Current State of the World’s Children statistics show that enrollment of girls in school is increasing, but  can we really tell the whole picture using statistics?  Sadly, no.

Firstly, corrupt governments report numbers that are not true.  Lack of understanding of the implications permits administrators to hand in false reports at the bidding of their supervisors.  When so much is at stake (aid, funding, jobs), a little lie seems worthy of the big reward.

Secondly, wording, translation, and interpretation can cause problems in research.  Governments may report that the number of girls in school is up.  However, enrollment and attendance are two different stories. A girl may very well be enrolled in school, and this in and of itself is a positive change, but the same girl may have only attended class for 1 week before her mother became ill and she had to stay home to care for the family.  Even when enrollment and attendance match up, girls can be attending school but treated as servants to fetch water and sweep floors rather than as scholars working on their lessons.

Numbers are important.  Numbers can show change, can show outliers, can show averages, but numbers never tell a complete story.  This is why working with local leaders– seeing, listening, and feeling — is needed in conjunction with quantitative evidence to make decisions regarding development or reform.

African Secondary school

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Fencing Girls In

3 girls in BelizeCultural norms fence girls inside the private sphere, keeping them out of the public sphere of the market and school. Females have been considered beneath males in every culture.  Many cultures see this as positive, as protectiveness, and as a way to honor a woman.  However, this sheltering can prevent girls from getting an education and becoming empowered to make decisions for their own lives.

One deterrent to girls attending school is the distance between home and school. The further the distance, the more vulnerable the girl is, as opposed to a boy, to abduction or rape.  In some cases, the risk is real.  Some instances the perception of vulnerability has caused cultural traditions of females being escorted by males when in public, and a girl would bring dishonor to her family by walking alone.  Without transportation or an escort, the female children are forced to stay home while the male children walk to school.

More importantly, within the doorway of school, girls are sexually abused and this atrocious behavior continues to higher education. According to UNICEF’s Girls, HIV/AIDS, and Education, “In an educational setting in Ecuador, 22 percent of adolescent girls reported being sexually abused at school” (n.d. pg. 10). Rape in secondary schools by fellow students and teachers is a horrible problem in South Africa (UNICEF, n.d.). In certain Latin American law, rape if followed by marriage negates punishment. Rape is not the only cause of young brides in developing countries, but is a cause that victimizes young scholars who would choose to delay marriage in order to go to school. Many researchers see sexual harassment and assault at the secondary level as one cause of girls not attaining higher education.  This safety issue creates a barrier to girls even when they are able to physically attend.

Another barrier to girls education is traditional gender roles.  Male or female roles are very specific in many developing countries with girls taking care of the responsibilities within the home, such as child and elderly care. The traditional role of females in the home leads to many girls speaking the mother-tongue language only, not the language of instruction that their brothers learn at the market. In countries where AIDS is prevalent, the girl in the family must forfeit school to care for the infected or orphaned. Also, teenage pregnancy causes girls to drop-out of school to care for their child while the father continues his education.

Fencing girls inside the private sphere may be done with good intentions, but the effect is more boys getting an education than girls around the world.  This creates gender inequality and the social ramifications of such.


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Why Support Girls Education?

director interviewing teenage girl at a public school in Accra, Ghana4 the World supports girls scholarships for education.  While there are hundreds of worthy projects in the nonprofit world, supporting girls education is one small project with huge results.

Besides the purely educational benefits of more girls in school, quality of life also improves for the girl and the girls’ future family members. “With girls and women more likely to be poorer and less educated than men, they are more likely to be financially and socially dependent on men. This power imbalance reduces young women’s choices” (UNICEF). These choices include the inability to have protected sex, to use birth control, to choose whom to marry, as well as many other life or death questions. To be merely a bystander of this power imbalance is to enable the perpetrators not the victims. “The toll on human lives is a toll on development—since improving the quality of people’s lives is development’s ultimate goal” (King, 2001, pg. 74). When women have accessed education and are empowered to make decisions, their physical and mental health as well as their children’s health and education attainment improves. Girls education is a win/win in the long run for all involved.

Investing in a girl’s education is not only ethically a good choice because it is one of many right things to do, but financially it is a good choice because the education of that girl trickles down to the next generation and future generations.  Her education empowers her and improves her children’s quality of life.  The key to investment, however, is not throwing money into a pot labeled “Girls Education.”  The barriers of access for the girl, safety of the girl, and empowering of women must be overcome.  Personal scholarship programs allow each girl a voice in overcoming her current barriers and gaining access through merit to the benefits of education.  To get involved in 4 the World’s Girls Scholarship Program, contact shea@4theworld.org.

King, E.M. (2001). Engendering Development. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

UNICEF. (n/d) Girls, HIV/AIDS and Education.