Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Girls Count

Girls Count: A Global Investment and Action Agenda

Featured Speakers: Kathy Calvin, Margaret Greene, Caren Grown, Laura Laski, Ruth Levine, Joan Libby-Hawk, Cynthia Lloyd, Caroline Ryan

The importance of investing time, energy, and funding into the world’s young female population is clear and undisputed. Young females across the globe are undoubtedly crucial to developmental progress and to the success of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite the noticeably important role of this specific group, support systems that aim to promote good health, the ability to advance, safety, and favorable living conditions for young women are unreliable. Girls are not protected even though they should be. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by the lack of consistent support. So they have only reaped the benefits of lip service, not reliable support over time.

In recognition of this unfortunate reality, the Center for Global Development, the International Center for Research on Women and the Population Council have reported on issues concerning this underserved segment of humanity with hopes to bring awareness to the fore and action to the ground.

The speakers first addressed why girls matter and why investing in their well-being is an economically sound decision. They mentioned that in this era of common interconnectedness of nations, young women comprise the workforce base that light textiles and other global industries requiring cheap labor rely on. As a result of their utility, young women are often subject to unfair work conditions and the unfortunate cyclic factors that accompany such exploitation.

One factor that accompanies exploitative practices is the absence of a formal mechanism that recognizes the existence of young females. As a result, young women lack citizenship and access to the rights that rely on formal documentation and identity records. Thus, many girls are restricted physically by their inability to travel legally. They are also they are limited financially as official ownership of land titles, assets, and homes requires documentation, as well as the approval and/or sponsorship of a male, usually a husband or father.

With hopes to help combat the gender inequalities recognized world-wide, the speakers gave a series of recommendations and encouraged attendees to realize how girls effect development. They framed part of this discussion around the Millennium Development Goals and by focusing on what individuals, non-governmental organizations/private actors, and governments can do to mitigate the problems related to gender equality and insufficient support for young females.

Some of the proactive steps you can take include encouraging males to respect and care for women of all ages. Parents can (re)introduce psychological commitment to ensure feminist ideals are respected and viewed with legitimacy. Also, you can support specific programs that directly support democratic governance and improve the conditions of civil society such as the Somali Women’s Scholarship Fund supported by UNDP-USA.

If you would like more information concerning issues of development related to women around the globe or would like to know how you can take a role in improving gender inequality, contact the U.S. Committee for UNDP.

Sponsor: Center for Global Development, International Center for Research on Women, Population Council
Location: Hilton Washington Embassy Row
Date: January 30, 2008
Time: 10:00 am-12:00pm
Approximate Number of Attendees: 300
Representative Attending: Saphonia Foster

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