Women's group. Kenya. Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World Bank
It has been nearly two decades since the Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995. The conference was a milestone in the advancement of women’s empowerment, because it highlighted the pertinent issues women face. We have come a long way since 1995. From the implementation of gender equity policies in the workplace to coordinated action on violence against women and human trafficking, we have seen commendable progress.
A year and two days ago today, a teenage girl was riding the school bus in northern Pakistan. Suddenly, a Taliban gunman got on the bus. He shot her. She almost died.
Sokha, a skinny orphan girl in Cambodia used to pick through garbage to survive. But thanks to series of events, she was able to enroll in school and excel. Her tale is one of the nine inspiring stories in Girl Rising, a documentary that aims to raise awareness about the plight of girls in the developing world.
On April 18, Girl Rising was screened at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. in an event to give a greater momentum to girls’ education and empowerment. President Jim Yong Kim, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Justine Greening, Secretary of State, International Development, UK, Holly Gordon, Executive Producer of Girl Rising, Frieda Pinto, an actress and Shabana Basij-Rasikh, Founder of SOLA, an organization hoping to expand education and leadership opportunities for Afghan women shared their thoughts on need of girls’ empowerment.
Watch the recap of the event:
Youth Forum Breakfast, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: Bamidele Emmanuel Oladokun / World Bank
In 2011 African heads of state met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Union Summit. It was held under the theme: "Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development." The main aim of the gathering was to deliberate on Africa's youth which is growing faster than any other continent. More than 200 million people in Africa are between ages 15 through 24.
“Africa is the youngest continent. The current youth of Africa are not only important for Africa but also for the world,” said Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist for the World Bank’s Africa region. Young people are usually the ones who lead innovation and are a source of labor force of any economy, Devarajan added.
One in every three women in the world will be physically or sexually abused at some point in her life. This could include the woman sitting next to you on the bus, your little niece playing in the garden, or even a friend you have known all your life.
For years, Rumana Manzur, assistant professor at Dhaka University, had been silent about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. But on June 5, 2011, Manzur was brutally attacked at home. Her husband beat her mercilessly, tried to gouge out her eyes, and bit off part of her nose in a fit of rage. Their 5-year-old daughter was in the room and witnessed this inhuman act. Manzur is now blind, her daughter traumatized for life.
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There’s a small treasure in Brazil’s state of Rio Grande do Norte. It’s “The Sao Tome Philharmonic”- an orchestra rich in youthful talent located in the country’s impoverished North East.
A glance at the world’s news headlines will tell you all about today’s military wars, terrorist attacks, and territorial disputes. But there is an oft forgotten war occurring everywhere in the world and at all times; the war in our homes.
To paraphrase a worker at Vancouver’s Rape Relief & Women's Shelter: no country in the world, developed or developing, is exempt from the otherwise ordinary men who beat their wives or lovers.
Imagine there’s one factor without which development is not possible. Without it, there can be no economic development, no human rights, no peace and security.
Well, there actually is such a factor. And that factor is women.
A 12-year-old girl probably doesn't strike most people as a big player in her country's development.
Most people are wrong.
Here are a few facts from the Girl Effect website: