As you, our readers know, every week the Global Gender Update includes a spotlight on an organization that focuses on gender issues around the world. We believe that it is important to highlight the hard work that people are doing in the United States and abroad to alleviate gender discrepancies. Each spotlight links to a longer blog post on our blog page, global.gender.current. The blog then contains a hyperlink to the organization’s website so that any interested parties have the opportunity to educate themselves further, and maybe even get involved. We try our best to represent as many countries as possible. Evidence of this work can be found by going to the Org Spotlight Archive and checking out our interactive map. As different organizations are spotlighted in the newsletter, there location is added to the map.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Many benefits are expected to ensue from programs for women. Professor Linda Scott from the University of Oxford addressed the challenges she has observed in trying to design programs and measurements for women’s empowerment at the “Designing Global Measures for Women’s Economic Empowerment” hosted by The World Bank Group Gender Team and SME Finance Forum. Professor Scott has been involved in many impressive efforts to create and evaluate support systems for female entrepreneurs. These experiences have given her a distinguished perspective on the state of affairs in women’s entrepreneurship support.
In her discussion, Professor Scott discussed the challenges of measuring the actual results of programs focused on women’s empowerment. For Scott, thinking critically about women’s entrepreneurship in developing and developed countries holds positive implications for family wellbeing, community viability, and national prosperity. Facilitating women’s entrepreneurship is a tactic for economic development as it produces a “ripple effect” that manifests in a greater trajectory than just focusing on men’s incomes. Scott supports this statement by pointing out that in the community, women invest their earnings in children and the community itself, which then produces a greater and more significant change. Scott also focused on private sector efforts, which includes her work building the measurement system for Walmart’s Empowering Women Together program.
Walmart’s Empowering Women Together holds the intention to assist women entrepreneurs at an early stage in their career development by facilitating a point of entry and access to a broader base of consumers, which is the “Walmart shopper.” The program is still small, in terms of the number of entrepreneurs it is connection and engagement with, but it is working within thirteen countries on four continents, so it has upward mobility potential thus far. These small companies constructed by women entrepreneurs involve a wide range of industries and products, such as jewelry and fashion. Many of the companies are social enterprises that are organized to benefit at-risk employee populations, such as refugees and recovering drug addicts. All these aspects make the system unique as Professor Scott highlights that no one else has attempted to capture the design measures that will work to assess impact and diagnose problems for women-owned businesses in any industry, any place, for any group of women.
Professor Scott’s discussion focused on the need for more attention to be focused upon the restrictions attributable to gender in the planning, management, and evaluation of interventions and particularly the need to recognize national differences in the constraints on women. She touched on the tendency of those who pursue this agenda, to treat women’s entrepreneurship as if it were any regular business venture without taking the time to properly consider the concrete limits that gender norms put on women’s ability to build an enterprise. As Scott pointed out, anyone that wants to make a difference in empowering women must learn to look through a “gender lens”. The primary limits she highlighted were: biased financial systems, restrictive property rights, limits on mobility, and, most significant, the threat of violence.
GirlForward is an NGO in Chicago that focuses on empowering refugee girls ages 12-21 who have been resettled in the city from war-torn countries around the world, and who are now building new lives for themselves and their families in the United States. It is the only NGO in the country that works to empower and instill confidence in refugee girls. GirlForward provides the girls with mentorship, educational programs, and leadership opportunities through programs that focus on four themes: Wellness, Wisdom, Wallet and World.
The organization started in 2012 when the founder and director, Blair Brettschneider recognized that there was a gap in providing refugee girls with the assistance, support, and resources that they needed. During the refugee experience, the girls in particular face challenging responsibilities and social isolation, while trying to acclimate to a new country, language, and culture.
Through individual mentorship, educational programs and leadership opportunities, the organization’s mission is to build a community of support for the girls amongst themselves as they go through the process of acclimation into the United States, as well as creating a resource center that the girls can go to for support and assistance. These programs address the biggest challenges that refugee girls face when relocating to the United States. GirlForward’s vision is to empower refugee girls because through girls, the entire community can be enriched and strengthened.
by Aya Hirata Kimura and Yohei Katano. Journal of Rural Studies 34:108-116, 2014.
Abstract: This paper analyzes experiences of organic farmers after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor accident. Specifically, we draw on feminist political ecology to analyze the divergent perceptions of radiation threats. Based on farmer interviews, we find that different interpretations resulted in social tensions on multiple levels, even among family members, particularly along gender lines. The paper links these local struggles to larger political issues. The political and economic elites emphasized control and normalcy in accordance with hegemonic masculinity, while chastising citizens who were concerned with radiation as irrational and hysteric. Existing studies of disasters have acknowledged their gendered impacts, but the analysis has tended to focus on women’s increased morbidity and mortality. Overall, our study suggests the utility of feminist political ecology in analyzing local risk interpretations and macro political dynamics from feminist perspectives. While gender difference in attitudes to radiation contamination is expected from the existing literature, this study suggests the need to examine how identities and socially constructed notions of masculinity/femininity mediate them. [not open access]
Mental Health Status among Married Working Women Residing in Bhubaneswar City, India: A Psychosocial Survey
by Ansuman Panigrahi, Aditya Prasad Padhy, and Madhulita Panigrahi. BioMed Research International, 2014, Article ID 979827, 7 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/979827
Abstract: Mental health is a major public health concern worldwide. This study aimed to assess the mental health status and its correlates among married working women residing in Bhubaneswar city of Odisha, India. A cross-sectional study was undertaken in 240 households involving 240 married working women following a multistage cluster random sampling design. Using the predesigned, pretested interview schedule and self-reporting questionnaire, all relevant information was collected. Our study revealed that 32.9% of study respondents had poor mental health and only about 10% of these women had sought any kind of mental health services. Logistic regression analysis showed that 3 predictors such as favorable attitude of colleagues, sharing their own problems with husband, and spending time for yoga/meditation/exercise had significant positive impact on the mental health status of married working women. A preventative program regarding various aspects of mental health for married working women at workplace as well as community level could be a useful strategy in reducing this public health problem. [open access]
To go to the article click here.
by Camry Haskins
Susan Markham was light-hearted and relaxed when she came to speak at a Delta Phi Epsilon event on the George Washington University campus on Monday night. An alumnus from GW, Ms. Markham received her master’s degree in women’s studies and public policy. She candidly spoke to the crowd of 40 about her journey, from naïve graduate student researching women running for office, to her blind dive into campaign fundraising, and,finally to her current position as Senior Coordinator for Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Ms. Markham commanded the room with her quick wit and wealth of knowledge. The force of her presence was also relatable to the crowd of mainly undergraduate females, many of whom are probably still working out which direction their paths will takes them. Ms. Markham quickly announced how little of her own career she had planned out; what she thought would be a quick experiment into election campaigning, turned into a love that kept her coming back for many years. “Campaigns are like the chicken pox”, she said. “They are in your system. You are a carrier”. She also shared her personal journey of discovering what the terms “real adult”, “real job”, and “real mom” meant to her. As a self-proclaimed feminist, she confused some attendees when she spoke of actively trying to fit into traditional feminine roles, but her experience shows how overwhelming social norms are in shaping our subconscious thoughts and beliefs. There are times when Ms. Markham still struggles to balance home and work life, but that hasn’t stopped her from following her passion.
As her career advanced, she found herself first refocusing on domestic women’s issues, and later on gender in an international framework. Now with USAID, Ms. Markham uses her position to ensure that the agency looks at every issue through a gendered lens. From brainstorming ways to increase gender inclusivity within the organization itself, to advocating for looking at Ebola and other epidemics through a gendered lens, Ms. Markham won’t yield on important topics. Along with an increased focus on women, she also strives to look at gender inclusively. Whether it is stressing the importance of involving both men and women in projects that increase women’s access in areas they have been traditionally kept out of (e.g. agriculture, education, health) or pointing out that it is not just increasing the capability of women and girls that is important but also the gaps between men and boys (e.g. locations where the older men in the community are the ones determining when the boys reach manhood), she is always pursuing increased awareness and diligence toward equality and progress. With these goals ahead of her, she does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
When Ms. Markham opened up for questions, hands shot up. Her enraptured audience was eager to learn more; each question posed could have generated another long discussion. Walking out of the event that night, I felt confident that Ms. Markham would do everything in her power to advance her goal of “empowering women so they can be part of making the decisions”. USAID can only benefit from their decision to hire Susan Markham.
HerStory Screening is a Success
On Wednesday, October 15, GGP hosted Sally Nuamah, PhD candidate at Northwestern University and GW alumnus, to present her documentary, HerStory: Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation. Sally became inspired after her first trip to Ghana, as an undergrad at GW. The film is a response to her connection with the Ghanaian girls.
One individual highlighted in the documentary is Queen, the headmistress of a public school; the first female head of the school in 60 years. She turned the school around, putting girls on the front line of leadership.
Many of the challenges the girls face are making it through high school and getting into one of 3 of the best university’s of Ghana: University of Ghana, Legon; Cape Coast University; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Cost of education for 1 girl is about USD$500 a year (tuition, boarding, and books).
One individual at the event described the documentary as “super interesting, and very touching too”.
The forty minute documentary was followed by a question and answer session with the director. Many guests stayed later to continue conversations with Ms. Nuamah.
New U-TOUCH Women’s Empowerment (WE) program inUganda
U-TOUCH stands for Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs. The organization aims to help people create opportunity for themselves and their communities with marketable skills for the workforce, beyond completing school. U-TOUCH stemmed from the idea that “Brilliance is equally distributed….Opportunity is not.” With this in mind, U-TOUCH hired its first woman trainer at the Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) and completed its first program targeted at women’s empowerment.
“U-TOUCH did something in Gulu that had never been done before. It provided a safe space for women to share their issues and struggles and ultimately a space that welcomed self-expression, growth and understanding. As a class we tackled issues of self-esteem, building a positive body image, ways to over-come gender based violence and learned leaderships skills as well as how to start and manage a small business. Through the three week training, twenty women embarked on a journey that inspired them to push past their circumstances and insecurities and dared them to be fearless. At the end of the training twenty women received their certificates of completion with confidence, pride, knowledge and a fearless attitude ready to take on the world.”
The need for a program like WE became apparent from the first day U-TOUCH opened its doors. Executive Director, Deb Plotkin recalls her surprise when 75 men and only one woman came to the first day of class. She recalls, “I told the men that if they wanted to come back tomorrow, they had better bring a woman. And I said to the woman, come back tomorrow with all of your friends.” And from that point on, U-TOUCH classes have been gender balanced.
Now, men and women of the communities are engaged in constructive conversations about the roles and rights of women.
A Muslim Women’s Organization in Sweden, Sisters’ Shelter Somaya focuses on helping women who have been affected by violence. They have an anonymous hotline that allows women to call in anytime to request physical help and emotional support.
Sisters’ Shelter Somaya also operates shelters for women and girls who have been victims of violence. It is a safe space for Muslim women and girls to come if they have been physically or verbally abused, harassed, or threatened. In addition to their personal accommodations, the shelter will also offer advice on what rights these women have and where to go for further legal advice in cases where the women wish to take further action.
Everyone who works at this center has vowed to uphold confidentiality so that the women who call or come in can feel safe in the knowledge that they will not be targeted for their choice to seek help. In operation for over a decade, this non profit organization prides itself on the compassionate and nonjudgmental services it offers.
“HerStory: Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation”, directed by Sally Nuamah, is a documentary short film on breaking the glass ceiling of education for girls in Ghana.
Sally, a George Washington alumna, is currently pursuing a PhD in political science from Northwestern University. The idea for “HerStory” developed while Sally was spending a semester abroad in Ghana researching the disparities among female high school students. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American, Sally felt a strong connection to the girls she met who were striving to become the first in their families to go to college in Ghana. “This work has become central to my efforts around disadvantaged youth and sparked my interest in determining how education can be used as a mechanism for improving life chances”. –Sally Nuamah
Please join us in screening her completed film, followed by a question and answer session with the director and light refreshments. To RSVP click here.