Day 2: United State of Women Summit
Programming for Adolescents
I was at the #Gender360Summit today, on Engaging Adolescent Girls and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality and Combating Gender-based Violence. This was a side summit to the #StateOfWomen summit I attended yesterday.
I met a wide variety of people today. Folks who work on dealing with victims of gender based violence, folks who work in refugee camps and in an oppressed border city, to provide services to children and prevent evils like child marriage and female genital mutilation. This is super hard work in super hard circumstances.
I heard folks talk about adolescent education and how it was crucial for adolescent programs to be designed by them, and keep them involved them in every step of the way. Even in monitoring and evaluation, they know the best questions that need to be asked to see if change was being made in the right directions.
Folks who worked in economics and said that one way to sell the idea of women working on the national level is to talk about the macro economic budgets and how much the GDP could improve by having women employed in the labour force.
There was also a thread about data collection in this space and that very little is known about adolescents. And HIV among this group is increasing, whereas it is getting lower for every other demographic. And we don't really know why.
I met a writer who writes plays about oppressed people and child marriage. I also met someone who works on researching the impact of life skills programs and how to best provide trainings to develop these skills to adolescents.
Folks who work in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and plenty of african countries. On the whole, another very busy, thought provoking day.
Women in the Workplace
One thing that piqued my interest in the #Gender360Summit today was that folks don't seem to understand completely why women in workplaces have flatlined at about 50% in the last 30 years. Girls are getting more access to education and more skill training from all other successes in education, but aren't making it to the workplace. For men, about 75% participate in the labour force.
I have some theories:
1. Insufficient, low quality or expensive childcare options, making it infeasible to do anything other than childcare
2. Men not helping with any childcare, household chores, thus making it hard for women to stay at work after kids
3. Societies holding on to stereotypical gender roles, creating too steep a hill that many women don't have the resources to conquer last mile
4. My pet theory is that maybe 75% men being employed in the formal sector is too high because some of these men don't want to do stressful work outside home either, but are forced to because their spouses don't want to? I'm sure that if the spouse worked many men are going to be happy to stay home and this percentage will drop to the real percentage of men who really "want" to participate in the labor force in its present form. Workplaces are bound to have to improve when this happens, thus allowing more people to participate willingly in the workforce
An Amazing Youth Ambassador
I heard from a few extremely articulate youth ambassadors who broke from the cycle of poverty. One girl, Sarah from Kenya, listed the things that helped her break the cycle:
- That she was blessed to have a mother who believed strongly that education would help her come out of poverty
- Scholarships she had received: Her mom couldn't pay the fees in primary school and Sarah stood outside the classroom to listen to the lectures so she could learn! Her teacher then waived the owed fee, and gave her a scholarship to complete primary school. She went on to get full scholarships through secondary school and then for her bachelors in Environmental Sciences to become the first graduate in her family
- Reproductive and sexual education: She said this helped her understand her body, have control in delaying having children and follow the path she had decided on
- Financial literacy classes: She mentioned that in Kenya men controlled all the resources. Learning about this made her aware of this and how she could access capital
- Communication skills: She blew me away with this. She said someone else tells a girls story, until she becomes an adolescent and realizes more about herself. Then, at this point, she should be able to tell her own story and market herself for good jobs! She cannot allow other people to tell her story when she has her own voice and knows best about the issues she faces and what she needs.
- Leadership skills
- ICT skills: She said boys got this easily, but getting to know "how big the world is, and how small the global village is" was very fascinating. My guess is that this is about information technology and the internet
That was one inspiring lady!