Women

What if women held the answers?

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Young girl. Papua New Guinea
Young girl. Papua New Guinea (Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

It has been over a month since I last posted, and in that time I have been busy. Busy thinking.

In March, I attended the Commonwealth Study Conference (known by its acronym CSCLeaders) across London, Glasgow and Oxford for what turned out to be an extraordinary gathering of 100 leaders from around the Commonwealth.

I was profoundly influenced by women I met at the recent CSCLeaders conference, especially those from across Africa, India, Pakistan, other parts of Asia and the Pacific.

Returning to Sydney, I attended a conference at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute which focused on Papua New Guinea. Again, there I was influenced greatly by the women who I spoke with.

Often, my conversation turned to the issue of child survival. These were seemingly ordinary women, and most of them mothers. Few of them were ‘experts’ in child mortality- there experience was found in other areas, but all of them had expert advice to offer.

I made me think:

What might this look like if women held the answers?

This is not to say that men have nothing to contribute. Far from it. It is an equally relevant question for men to address as for women. So much so, that the orientation of the design forum for the 10 City Bridge Run will be framed using this question.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts too. Do you think this question is helpful? Could it be expressed better?

6 Days to Go. 8 MDG: MDG 3- Promote Gender Equity and Empower Women

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Young women in preparing manioc bread or Fufu....
Young women in preparing manioc bread

Spotlight on gender equity and empowerment of women today.

Yesterday, my good friend Tiffany sent me through a video The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking. Worth a look- go on, check it out and I will wait here until you return.

So how was it?

In the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the United Nations (UN) have set a target to Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. From the video and thinking about this, already the symbiotic relationship between these MDG should be more clear. These are not stand alone stove-piped objectives.

So why should I care? This year I am also an Ambassador for the White Ribbon Foundation which looks at Australian men stepping up to end violence against women. Earlier this year, another friend of mine April, informed me about the atrocious prevalence of rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC). Rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and control. Statistics so high that they top the world. Nothing to boast about.

As an Ambassador of the White Ribbon Foundation, I would hope that these statistics are seen as ugly as they are, and that through this we men can reflect this back into our own communities and behaviours. If it is not ok for us to put up with violence against women here in Australia, why should it be any different in DROC? We should be outraged!

Back to what the UN have to say about this MDG 3:

  • For girls in some regions, education remains elusive
  • Poverty is a major barrier to education, especially among older girls
  • In every developing region except the Commonwealth of Independent States, men outnumber women in paid employment
  • Women are largely relegated to more vulnerable forms of employment
  • Women are over-represented in informal employment, with its lack of benefits and security
  • Top-level jobs still go to men — to an overwhelming degree
  • Women are slowly rising to political power, but mainly when boosted by quotas and other special measures

So what should we make of this? It would seem that there is an opportunity to advance this forward through much of the excellent advocacy and game changing approaches through microfinance groups by organisations like the IWDA.

The video presents an opportunity. Can we harness this? And when will we consider those women and girls subjected to appalling conditions of rape and sexual violence as neighbours within our broader global village, the global ‘dongnae’ (Korean for village)?

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