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This Thursday, March 8, people will be celebrating International Women’s Day all around the world. Vietnam is no exception—there will be numerous events arranged by the Government, donors, mass organizations, NGOs, colleagues, and husbands. But what are we celebrating—and how will we celebrate the event?
Last year I went to a celebration of women’s day here in Vietnam where the women’s male colleagues had written little poems about how beautiful and sexy the women looked and how the men appreciated their beauty and femininity. This was such a new and intriguing way of celebrating Women’s day to me.
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Thứ Năm tuần này, ngày 8/3/2012, toàn thế giới sẽ cùng kỷ niệm ngày Quốc tế Phụ nữ. Việt Nam cũng không phải ngoại lệ - Chính phủ, nhà tài trợ, các tổ chức đoàn thể, tổ chức phi chính phủ, đồng nghiệp và các ông chồng sẽ tổ chức hàng loạt sự kiện nhân ngày này. Nhưng chúng ta ăn mừng điều gì – và chúng ta sẽ kỷ niệm sự kiện này như thế nào?
Dịp này năm ngoái, tôi được tham dự một buổi lễ kỷ niệm Ngày Quốc tế Phụ nữ tại Việt Nam, tại đó, các đồng nghiệp nam đã viết các vần thơ ca ngợi sự xinh đẹp và quyến rũ của phụ nữ và đàn ông trân trọng vẻ đẹp cũng như sự nữ tính của họ thế nào. Đối với tôi, đây quả thực là một cách mừng ngày phụ nữ rất mới và thú vị.
|The Goldridge Mine pit in Solomon Islands|
History records that the first European to come to Solomon Islands, Alvaro De Mendana, in 1568 gave the archipelago its name because he believed this area of the South Pacific was where King Solomon got the gold he used to build the Temple of Jerusalem. The Spaniards did search for gold during their exploration of the islands, but somewhat fruitlessly such that they left and never returned.
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|Changes were made in the way village meetings were run so women would participate more.|
Whenever and wherever the Bank supports a project, to “mainstream” gender is one of the goals. The idea is a fairly simple one. Right? Making sure that men and women benefit equally from the poverty reduction activities we support.
There are a number of tools we produce to help us achieve this—Gender Analysis, Regional Gender Action Plans, County Gender Action Plans, Gender Disaggregated Outcome Indicators, Gender Check-Lists, Strategies and Tool-Kits, etc. So looking at the amount of guidance we seem to need one might be forgiven for thinking this is an exceedingly complex task and for wondering whether in reality (i.e. after that board approval is done and the real work of implementation begins) all of the “gender mainstreaming language” doesn’t get a little lost in translation…
|Some recipients of a scholarship given to young girls in Cambodia at the end of primary school. The program has had a significant effect on girls’ secondary enrollment. (photo by Deon Filmer)
Those of us who have had the pleasure of raising an adolescent girl – and survived the experience – might blanch at the thought of a program to stimulate education that gave her, rather than the doting parent, a grant equivalent to 3% of the family’s average per capita monthly consumption. And yet, that’s exactly what a policy experiment, conducted by my friend Berk Ozler and other researchers, did in Malawi. What’s more, they found that raising these girl-targeted cash transfers increased school attendance much more than raising those given to parents.
Empowering women with resources has long been recognized as a powerful weapon to safeguard investments in human capital. Research has shown that transfers to women have a more powerful effect than to men in raising school attendance and ensuring that kids are immunized. But more recent research, like Berk et al.’s, is showing that policies aimed directly at adolescent girls and young women may have an even greater effect, not only in encouraging schooling but in ensuring reproductive health. Pascaline Dupas’ policy experiment in Kenya showed that simply giving young women information showing that older men were more likely to be HIV-positive led them to eschew partnering with ‘sugar daddies’.