Koshi is 4 days old. She was born in a small village near Hyderabad (Sindh, Pakistan) and is one of four siblings – all girls, all under the age of 10. Her parents were hoping that this time it would be a boy, but perhaps better luck next time? Her mother is worried that if she doesn’t give birth to a boy, she will be stigmatized. Family planning is out of the question – not that she and her husband have even discussed this. She worries about her girls’ well-being too. They are underweight and get sick a lot. She wants them to grow up healthy and get an education. Koshi’s father is worried about them too. He is a tenant farmer with a meager income. He already struggles to provide the basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter. Even if they marry young, how will he arrange their dowries? Of course this is only if Koshi and her sisters live long enough.
Koshi’s chances of survival are slim.[ii] The situation in Sindh is worse than the national average, and the risk of deaths is higher in its rural areas where access to healthcare and other social services is more limited.
Having a primary health center near the village and local lady health workers for example will improve the girls’ chances of access to healthcare and childhood immunization – necessary for protection against diseases such as measles, polio, and diphtheria that still take a heavy toll on children’s lives. It also improves the mother’s access to skilled birth attendance. .[iv]
Around much of Africa, children wear uniforms to school. With the abolition of official school fees for primary school in most countries, the cost of uniforms can be one of the largest expenses for families. In a new study, we examine the impact of providing free school uniforms to primary school children and observe how it affects their school participation in the short and long run.
In front of a crowd overflowing into the hallways of the UN, Her Honor, Mrs. Wina Inonge, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, showcased the Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) Program to the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women.
This places significant importance on continuous skills training to prepare the workforce ready for future jobs. For this, what are the policy options for Bangladesh? How can the country move forward to ride the wave of the changing tide while leveraging the burgeoning youth population?
To answer these questions, and contribute towards the skills dialogue, an International Skills Conference was organized recently in Dhaka under the theme “Building Brands for Skills of Bangladesh”. The conference brought together national and international policymakers, skills development practitioners, academics, and researchers, from China, Singapore and India for two days of knowledge sharing and networking.
Organized by the Technical and Madrasah Education Division of the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh and supported by the Directorate of Technical Education and the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), the conference covered topics ranging from connecting skills and jobs to future proofing technical education institutions to raising the brand of skills of Bangladesh. After two days of knowledge sharing, two important themes emerged:
“I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I want to help people like the doctor at the hospital who helped my mother” said the little eight-year old girl, full of confidence. She was one of about 50 children attending a primary school in Tahtay Adiabo Woreda in Tigray. The little girl was talking to a World Bank team visiting the area and the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP).
“To succeed in life, you have to study hard and obtain your diploma with honors so that you can eventually land a high-paying job,” is what my father would tell me constantly. As a young girl, everything was clear to me: a diploma with honors would automatically land me a job with a salary as high as Bill Gates’s.
Over the next several decades, Pakistan is poised to become the fourth most populous country in the world. With nearly 53 million active youth (under 25) and a high youth unemployment rate, the challenges of inclusion and empowerment of these young people will continue to grow. Gender disparities also persist with Pakistan having one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the South Asia region.
Do good intentions matter if they end up contributing to harm?
In 15 years of working in international development, I have asked myself this question many times, and the answer is always complicated. I learned working on the Uganda Development Responses to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) that even the most straightforward interventions – building a school, for example – can contribute to unintended consequences if they are not well thought-through. As Dr. Robert Limlim, DRDIP’s director, put it: “You build a school and it does not cause harm, but this school is built under social contradictions that impede equal access to education for boys and girls. If we want to transform social dynamics, doing good is not enough, we need to systematically address Gender Based Violence (GBV) in development responses to forced displacement.”
Finding a job is a challenging process ---and it can be especially difficult and overwhelming for youth and people entering the labor market for the first time. Youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are double those of adult unemployment for both men and women. Estimates show that 11 million youth will enter the labor market in Sub-Saharan Africa each year for the coming decade. This offers the potential to dramatically reduce poverty. But to make the most of this opportunity, young people need to engage in productive employment that fuels economic growth. In this blog, we present two simple and effective strategies to support job seekers to find employment.
“I have always enjoyed studying computer and human physiology since childhood, that’s why I jumped at the opportunity of developing a scientific application with KPITB’s support. This app has even helped my younger brother understand different body organs and their functions in a fun way. The KPITB’s ‘early age programming’ program has supported many girls from public schools, who would otherwise have never received this chance of realizing their dream of developing apps.”
Such compelling words came from Hafsa, a 13-year-old female student of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) public school as she addressed about one thousand young men and women at this year’s Digital Youth Summit (DYS) in Peshawar.
Girls like Hafsa are becoming the face of DYS, an annual event that brings the spotlight on young talent and their digital innovations.
I heard similar passionate accounts during my two-day interaction with KP youth as they shared candidly how they had transformed challenges into opportunities through hard work and perseverance.
where 50 percent of people are age 30 or under.
Such forums also provide a space for youth to voice their aspirations and claim for greater and more meaningful socio-economic inclusion.
And while Hafsa’s impassionate story of progress resonated with everyone in the room, it stood as a stark reminder that
Fittingly, DYS discussed different gender issues and offered solutions to boost female digital entrepreneurship.