Week 14

Part A

Some of the policies put forth to close the gap in gender equality have been a good start. One organization has focused their efforts no closing the gap– the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly. In 1948, their initial policy in 1948 was more of a general statement– but now, the idea of promoting an ethical stance for the idea that human rights is a “legitimate concern for all cultures”.

Also, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 aka the “Bill of Rights for Women”

the goals are quite simple, they essentially strive for:

  • abolishing sex-discriminating laws
  • establishing public institutions to prevent anti-women laws

Although a treaty like this exists, the gap is still prevalent. In the work force, and also in the US– despite what people may think of the US having an “equal system”

There’s a long way to go, but with more and more places adopting the UN treaty, there can be a movement toward equal working opportunities

Part B

After reading Women, Work, and the Economy– the article specifically pointed out the ways that women can affect the economy in a positive way:

  • There’s evidence that when women are able to develop their full labor market
    potential, there can be significant macroeconomic gains.
  • There are better opportunities for women to earn and control income could contribute to
    broader economic development in developing economies, example) through higher levels of school enrollment for girls.
  • Having equal access to inputs would raise the productivity of female-owned companies.
  • The employment of women on an equal basis would allow companies to make better use of the available talent pool, with potential growth implications.

Perhaps the most challenging thing for women is their inability to break the gender stereotype. This causes them to fall a few steps behind rather than being viewed as members of society who can be valued members of the workforce. The idea of women only serving as household figures is detrimental to any progress in the job market– the male mindset must change in order to create sustainable gender equality.

The video above is about the women of Chad, and how the local business has had a positive effect in their community. Ive come to notice that women are more likely to invest their earnings back into the community which helps in generating economy. So, to me it’s a shame when women are not at the forefront of their community’s economy– it’s the best way to get women involved in the workforce so they can pay it forward to their respective villages, communities, towns, etc.


Week 14: Women and Equality

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. This international bill is often described as a bill of rights for women. CEDAW defines what constitutes as discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.


By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  • to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

The Convention is the only human rights treaty, which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. By signing this treaty, state parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of trafficking women and the exploitation of women.

The gaps that still exist among men and women include multiple different aspects of life. Women have a harder time finding leadership opportunities if employed. Men are more likely to get paid more for doing the exact same job as women, or even less work than what a women would be expected to do. There are also many lost opportunities for educating women compared to men. In sub-Saharan Africa, 81% of boys were enrolled at primary school during 2005-2009, compared to only 77% of girls (UNESCO Institute for Statistics – UIS).

Though many governments are committed to providing equal education for girls, in practice girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys.

The reasons for girls’ lower enrollment in primary and secondary schooling include:

  • the tendency of poor families to spend available money on the education of boys, because males are viewed as the future breadwinners
  • the expectation that girls will carry out domestic and household work
  • the pressure in some cultures for girls to marry young, particularly where they are seen as an economic burden on families
  • the lack of separate toilet facilities for girls in many schools.

Health challenges are also something women have to deal with versus men. Because women are expected to take care of the household, this makes them more likely to be around illness, since they are the caretakers. This is also why there is such a widespread problem with the Ebola virus effecting women. The ladies in Sub-Saharan Africa do not know the proper ways to protect themselves from catching the virus, and therefore more likely to catch it.


Another health issue affecting African women includes genital mutilation. This causes long term damage and raises the risk of complications during childbirth. Childbirth is also an issue among the young women in Africa who are married off while they are still teenagers. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that two-fifths of all African girls are married before the age of 18. In some countries the proportion is much higher. For example, in Chad and Niger, a third of young women (20-24) said they were married by the age of 15.

Polices that need to be implemented in order to sustain gender equality is a much bigger issues than the law. Yes, there can be more laws in place, but the activity taking place in these countries towards women needs to be more closely monitored. The punishment for acting violent towards women should be more publicly displayed, and the current members in power need to implement these equality laws. As more African women are becoming elected in positions of power I think there is hope for the inequality to stop. This is a long-term goal that must be consistently worked on in order to reach the results women deserve.

After watching the YouTube video, I learned that maternal health, lack of legal rights, and illiteracy create hardship for girls in Chad for economic empowerment. In southern Chad, women are stepping out and undertaking a variety of entrepreneurial projects, including a restaurant.

Some other challenges women face is that the female labor force has remained lower than the male participation even though women make up a little over half the world’s population. If women are employed in paid work, they are overrepresented in the informal sector among the poor. Senior positions and entrepreneurship still remains low among women.

According to Women, Work, and the Economy, there is ample evidence that when women are able to develop their full labor market potential, there can be significant macroeconomic gains. Another benefit society would gain from allowing women to achieve their full economic viability would be because of the better opportunities for women to earn and control income, they can contribute to broader economic development in developing countries, for instance through higher levels of school enrollment for girls. Equal access to inputs would raise the productivity of female owned companies.

Empowering Women

The social importance of empowering young girls in Africa is an issue that needs a lot of focus. In general, there are many issues with gender equality in the world today, especially Africa. Women are much more likely to be poor and illiterate compared to men. There are many opportunities that women cannot receive the benefits of, like owning their own property, credit, training and employment. In order to achieve gender equality, we need to look at the opportunities, education, power and influence and financial independence that are granted to men, and emphasize those same rights for women. Empowering women will benefit the overall feeling of worth, the women’s families and will continue to affect the future generations once favorable changes are made.

Key issues that are addressed when dealing with the empowerment of women:

  • Reproductive health
    • Allowing women to plan their families and fertility will lead to success. Women that don’t have the option of controlling their reproductive health is an issue that can and will hinder the opportunities available in order to reach gender equality.
    • Complications during pregnancy or childbirth is the number two killer of women of reproductive age.
  • Economic empowerment
    • Six out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women.
  • Educational empowerment
    • 2/3rds of the worlds illiterate adults are women
    • Higher education for women leads to infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as better outcomes for their children.
  • Political empowerment
    • Men occupy the majority of positions in legal and political authority
    • Only 22% of women make up the parliamentary positions
    • Most laws against domestic violence are not enforced on the behalf of women

ActionAid USA is one of the many organizations that is working towards empowering women as a global movement. ActionAid has been working in Africa for over 40 years. Key themes in the work they accomplish include:

  • HIV/AIDS prevention
  • Care and treatment
  • Peace building
  • Famine relief and food rights
  • Education


A current issue that ActionAid is dealing with is the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Many of the caretakers in the community are women, which makes them the most vulnerable to catching the virus. Because the literacy rate is so poor in this area, ActionAid is taking the next step with an awareness campaign so women know more about the disease and what to do when they come in contact with the virus. Educating these women is an important part of the campaign due to the educational challenges that are common throughout the entire population in Sierra Leone. Only 25% of women are literate, and 37% of the entire population is literate. Most of the strategies for the protection and empowerment of young women are done by non-for-profits. ActionAid is working with community leaders and partners knocking on everybody’s doors in two districts Bo and Kono, where ActionAid sponsored children live in order to spread the word and educate the community. They are also spreading the message on the radio through discussion groups and playing jingles. Here is an example of a jingle they have been using: Our jingle says: “don’t eat bush meat, wash your hands constantly with chlorine, and avoid direct contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, vomit, stool, semen, vaginal fluids and urine”

I think this campaign is effectively spreading the word about the dangers and threats of the Ebola virus. The ActionAid community is overcoming the literacy challenges in creative ways and I believe that progress will be made in educating and empowering the women of Sierra Leone.

Eastern and Southern Africa continues to have the highest number of young HIV-infected people between the ages of 15 and 24 out of all regions. The total number of infected girls and young women that age is more than twice as high as among their male counterparts – 1.9 million compared to 780,000.

UNICEF works in partnership with the UN Population Fund, UNESCO and the World Health Organization to empower adolescent girls and boys to take informed decision about their sexuality. These interventions offer young people gender-specific, age-appropriate information on HIV and the steps they can take to prevent infection including:

  • delayed sexual debut
  • correct and consistent condom use
  • mutual faithfulness
  • the reduction in age difference between partners as well as in the number of partners
  • the use of testing and counseling services for HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses

UNICEF has been developing a program to educate young women from the ages of 15-17 called Sister to Sister. This intensive 3-day risk reduction education is organized in schools in Malawi, Tanzania, Lesotho and Namibia. The girls will be learning this new material outside of their normal school schedule.


The issues in Nigeria are caused by the Boko Haram in Chibok, who have kidnapped 276 school girls that were preparing for their final exams last April. More than 200 have remained missing. There have been multiple false alarms about getting the girls safely home to their families. The current leader of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has made no progress on the issue. The Boko Haram just made a public statement saying they have converted the girls to Islam and have been married off. There has been reported sightings of the girls, but none have been found.

Week 13

Eve Ensler’s Ted Talk

In her talk, Eve Ensler, the writer/creator of the Vagina Monologues, talks about, empowering young women to overcome societies obstacles

providing knowledge gives power

To me, educating women is an extremely important discussion to have in this day and age. Providing education to young women is vital for a country to prosper economically. Once women are educated and skilled, they can contribute in the workforce and the economy. The small change could lead to progress for women in social areas as well, and they can be respected as skilled workers and not put down.

Malawi and other African Countries

Source: Huffingtonpost.com

Let Girl’s Lead is a foundation in founded by Denise Dunning. They focus on leadership and advocating for social change.

“Let Girls Lead invests in leaders and organizations working to improve girls’ lives, enabling them to take their innovative strategies to scale. The UN Foundation’s evaluation of our work demonstrated we have improved the health, education, livelihoods, and rights of 3 million girls.”

LGL’s impacts include:

  • Reducing child marriage in Malawi by empowering girls to advocate with village chiefs, and a national campaign increasing the legal age of marriage.
  • Lowering teen pregnancy and youth HIV infection rates in Honduras by improving young people’s access to education and health services.
  • Guaranteeing protection of girls’ health, education, and welfare in Liberia through passage and implementation of the national Children’s Law.
  • Building a global network of over 100 leaders and organizations to advocate “girl-friendly” laws, policies, and funding.

Let Girls Lead uses education as a way to address and combat issues that are prevalent in African countries such as rape, violence, sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and the mistreatment of women. Again, I agree with “knowledge gives power”-because having the knowledge about these issues can be the first and biggest step in prevention from it happening. Giving women the opportunity and the power to know about what is going on around them is the best way to go about these issues holistically.

(Week 13): Empowering Women

In this TEDx talk, Halima Hima challenges the way we think about empowering girls and women in rural communities. Hima was selected in 2011 as one of “Africa’s 25 top emerging women leaders under 25 for their commitment to service”.

When we empower women and girls to become leaders and agents of change in their own communities we can help break down cultural and historical barriers that stand in their way.  We can do this by investing in untapped skills of these women, by giving them the resources to achieve their potential.  Education is a major component to making this happen. Many young women in Sub-Saharan Africa, and around the developing world, do not always have ready access to primary and secondary education. The skills that these girls can obtain from primary and secondary education are essential to their future success.

Education gives girls confidence to pursue their goals, and gives them the resources to do so.  It also gives them the confidence to take a stand about issues that matter to them and other women in their community. Women in Malawi have started campaigns against child marriages, and women across sub-Saharan Africa  have advocated for health care and education for women and girls.  This is especially important in underdeveloped countries because women and girls are the most likely to feel the full force of poverty.  Micro-loans and similar programs discussed in earlier weeks try to help create a spirit and means of entrepreneurship in these communities.

Let Girls Lead is just one of the many organizations that seeks to empower young women in developing countries. They offer training and support for young women in the hope to help create a global girl power movement. Among other goals, this group advocates to promote literacy in rural developing communities, and to set the national marriage age at 21.  Let Girls Lead supports more than 600 local and grass-roots organizations.

They help provide services and training to social entrepreneurs around the world.  Let Girls Lead advocates for understanding the social, cultural and legal barriers that exist around discriminatory laws and policies before trying to completely overhaul them.  How to create change for women in the context of their culture and their community on the terms of these women, and providing them with the necessary means to do so.

Empowering Ugandan Women

76% of women were in the labor force in Uganda in 2011, but women in Uganda only own a small fraction of property. Women in Uganda often have substantial economic and social roles compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries. Despite the large social and economic responsibilities Ugandan women have held in many traditional Ugandan societies, there is still large amount of inequality and strict gender roles that exist for women in Uganda today (Fortune). USAID works in Uganda, recently they assisted female parliamentarians (35% of parliament members in Uganda are females “in achieving the passage of an anti-trafficking bill.  This strengthened their voice to provide greater legal protections for women and children” (USAID).

USAID’s programs around the world try to attain rights for all by:

  • narrowing gender gaps in education and learning
  • creating safe societies where women and girls can live free from violence
  • providing care and treatment services for victims of gender-based violence
  • ensuring women a seat at the table in peace-building, mitigation, and conflict prevention.
  • increasing the participation of women in decision and policy-making at all levels
  • strengthening women’s access to resources and opportunities that will allow them to share more broadly in the benefits of economic growth

Recent research has indicated that HIV infection has decreased as education rates in Africa have increased. Supporting the idea that education and training has been effective in decreasing this critical issue.  As the cost of education costs rise in Africa it has become more and more difficult to continue empowering young girls.  Some suggest to lay a proactive foundation for HIV prevention efforts African governments should invest more in primary and secondary education.

ActionAid International says that formal education can influence vulnerability to HIV in a number of ways:

1. expose girls to HIV and AIDS education which can in turn help prevent HIV

2. affect the social and sexual network for girls

3. influence the level of power within sexual relationships

4,. provide psycho-social benefits for young women, helping them build their self-esteem and the capacity to act on HIV prevention messages in their own lives.

5. lead to better economic prospects, which in turn lead to lifestyle changes that can influence HIV vulnerability.

ActionAid as an organization seeks to

  • assist with access and control of land and natural resources
  • secure basic rights for women and girls
  • create accountability at all levels
  • assist with disaster management and resilience building

ActionAid is able to do this by placing women and girls at the center of their work. They believe that gender equality is the key to poverty eradication, and that women’s rights must be protected and promoted.

Empowering Young Women

In this passionate talk, Eve Ensler declares that there is a girl cell in us all — a cell that we have all been taught to suppress. She tells heartfelt stories of girls around the world who have overcome shocking adversity and violence to reveal the astonishing strength of being a girl.

Empowerment “amplifies their voices and broaden their hopes, turning small victories into large-scale changes” -Khadaroo

By empowering young women to become agents of change, we can break down historical and cultural barriers and invest in the untapped skills of those oppressed. As many would agree, education is key; the futures of many young African women are dependent on their access to primary and secondary education.

Such education gives them confidence to stand up and make a change, to start conversations with parents, teachers, and religious leaders about the need to invest in girls. In Malawi, women have taken a stand against child marriages. In Liberia, there is the Children’s Law, which guarantees the rights of health care and education. Girls and women bear the brunt of poverty, but we can transform their societies by providing social entrepreneurship.

Homepage of Let Girls Lead

Homepage of Let Girls Lead

Let Girls Lead offers training and support to foster a movement of global girl power. This includes campaigning to raise the national marriage age to twenty-one and promoting literacy in rural communities. Let Girls Leads’ support of over six hundred grass-roots organizations helps provide training and services to social entrepreneurs. In order to reform discriminatory policies and laws, we must examine the cultural and legal barriers to systematic change (Let Girls Lead). At the very least, we must begin to understand how to create change and implement new policies that provide women with the necessary means for success.

As education rates in Africa have increased, there has been a decrease in HIV infection among the educated, supporting that through training and services, improvements can be made. But, the rising cost of education has made it difficult to continue empowering young girls in Africa. Many suggest that African governments need to invest in more primary and secondary education, thereby laying a solid foundation for HIV prevention efforts.

Action Aid International states that formal education can influence vulnerability to HIV in five different ways:

  1. Expose girls to HIV and AIDS education, which helps prevent HIV.
  2. Provide psychosocial benefits for young women, helping them to build their self-esteem and capacity to act
    on HIV prevention messages.
  3. Lead to better economic prospects, which in turn lead to lifestyle changes that can influence HIV vulnerability.
  4. Influence the level of power within sexual relationships.
  5. Affect the social and sexual networks of girls.
Logo for FAWE

Logo for FAWE

Many programs for the empowerment of women are not-for-profit, such as the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). A key concern of the African education sector today is ensuring that education programs equip young Africans with the ideal combination of knowledge and practical skills for the transition to productive adult life.

Empowering Kenyan Women

Throughout Kenya’s history, women have been subjected to rights abuses while bearing an overwhelming amount of responsibilities (FSD). Currently, women in Kenya do the vast majority of agricultural work and produce/market the majority of food. Yet they earn only a fraction of the income produced and own almost nothing (FSD). Conventional ideas about the roles of girls and women restrict their contributions to the Kenyan society. Women in Kenya are underrepresented in decision-making positions and therefore have less access to education, land, and employment. The country’s new Constitution, passed in 2010, provides a powerful framework for addressing gender equality. It marks a new beginning for women’s rights in Kenya; seeking to remedy the traditional exclusion of women and promote their full involvement in every aspect of growth and development (USAID).

USAID’s programs attempt to attain rights for all by:

  • Creating safe societies where women and girls can live free from violence;
  • Providing care and treatment services for victims of gender-based violence;
  • Strengthening women’s access to resources and opportunities that will allow them to share more broadly in the benefits of economic growth;
  • Increasing the participation of women in decision and policy-making at all levels;
  • Ensuring women a seat at the table in peace-building, conflict prevention and mitigation; and
  • Narrowing gender gaps in education and learning.

Action Aid has a similar program that aims to:

  • Secure basic rights for women and girls
  • Access and control of land and natural resources
  • Accountability at all levels
  • Disaster management and resilience building

We place women and girls at the center of our work with the knowledge that gender equality is not only key to poverty eradication but also women’s rights in and of themselves must be promoted and protected. –Action Aid

Fatima speaks from experience about the difference an education makes to girls, about the barriers she has overcome, and how, as a member of the pan-African CAMA alumnae network, she is multiplying the benefits of her education. Fatima provides health information to communities, and speaks on diverse platforms to encourage other young women from poor backgrounds to seek education and develop as leaders.

Week 12: Women

Women are often marginalized in the workforce in sub-Saharan Africa.  Most the time it stems from tribal and rural societies using part tribal customs and part common law.  Part of the problem is also education.  Many families in sub-Saharan Africa do not see it necessary for women to go to school.  This is also more prevalent in countries were women are being sold.  Rural women in Africa are dependent on males due to traditional gender roles that define division of labor, therefore are subordinate socially, economically, and politically.

In Kenya, women work on domestic duties aw well as the majority of agriculture cultivation .

  • Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of labor force
  • Women make up 75 percent of agriculture work force

Women own the crops they cultivate, but are not owners of the land.  Modernization and globalization has amplified the marginalization of female rural agricultural workers in Kenya.  Multi-national corporations have utilized Kenya’s arable land for cash crop farms, that have negatively affected rural women workers.  This has caused men to migrate to work in urban areas or commercialized crop factories, leaving women to tend to the agricultural duties on land technically owned by their husbands with no legal protection.

The IMF official is hardly the only person to automatically file women under micro – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon during TED talk

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that women should not just get micro-loans.  Women should be running all types of firms, from home businesses to major factories.  This is a key to economic development, which in turn will contribute positively to making the situation of marginalization better.

Education is also another way to improve the situation of marginalization.  A major obstacle with education, especially in Kenya recently, is terrorism of education facilitates.  Recently in the news 147 people died in a university attack.  Changes to security to allow for education to take place will go a long way in positively contributing to the problem.

I do believe micro-loans will help will self-sufficiency of women in the workforce.  Organizations such as KIVA work to provide micro loans to women in sub-Saharan Africa.  Below is a video how KIVA works.

Using the example of Kenya women agricultural workforce, micro-loans can help set up business for the crops they harvest, since they have the rights to the crops they cultivate.  Although the women do not own the land, if the husband is working in urban areas and the wife has a agriculture business, this will help move the family out of the poverty trap.

Another reason why women are being marginalized is because of women and HIV/AIDS.  In Zambia, an organization called GlobalGiving helps provide micro-loans for women impacted by HIV/AIDS.  The project provides business training, micro loans, business monitoring and counseling to 100 poor women entrepreneurs for a period of one year in Zambia. The long term impact is to empower women in effort to strenghten communities.  GlobalGiving expects higher attendance in school via better health and nutrition of the children, a lower rate of HIV infection via better education, & a higher number of people with income generating skills in the community.