Thursday, May 17, 2007

Worldwide descrimination against girls still happening

The Independent has an article about a new study of how girls live worldwide.

Discrimination against girls 'still deeply entrenched'

Almost 100 million girls "disappear" each year, killed in the womb or as babies, a study has revealed.

The report, "Because I am a Girl", exposes the gender discrimination which remains deeply entrenched and widely tolerated across the world, including the fact that female foeticide is on the increase in countries where a male child remains more valued.

The report highlights the fact that two million girls a year still suffer genital mutilation, half a million die during pregnancy - the leading killer among 15 to 19-year-olds - every 12 months and an estimated 7.3 million are living with HIV/Aids compared with 4.5 million young men. Almost a million girls fall victim to child traffickers each year compared with a quarter that number of boys.

Of the 1.5 billion people living on less than 50p a day, 70 per cent are female, with 96 million young women aged 15 to 24 unable to read or write - almost double the number for males.

There is a pattern of discrimination against of women in the 3rd World countries, as the above numbers clearly show, but as the Independent article makes clear, it also happens in the Western World (the article focuses on the UK).

The report can be downloaded from here (click on the 'download report' link, which will give you the report as a .pdf file).

I have only glanced briefly at the report, which is 98 pages long, but it's depressing reading. The goal of the report is to document the current state of affairs, and presumably make people want to change it for the better

Girls are getting a raw deal. Despite having the same rights as their brothers, they face discrimination even before they are born. There are an estimated 100 million missing women because of the practice of female foeticide. As
they grow up girls suffer more from malnutrition, because families feed boys first, affecting girls’ well-being for the rest of their lives. They are less likely to go to school: almost two-thirds of the children of primary school age out of school
are girls. They are more likely to be subject to violence: millions of girls are subjected to daily violence in the home and at school, which should be places of safety. Underinvestment in girls can hold back the economic development of some
of the world’s poorest countries; girls have a real contribution to make.

‘Because I am a Girl’ is the first of a series of annual reports focusing on girls and young women in the world. Produced by Plan, the reports will be published every year from 2007 to 2015 – the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women. This report will provide a wealth of secondary data and case study material on the major issues of concern for girls. It will also demonstrate what is being done at local, national and international levels, as well as highlight the concerted effort needed for real progress.

As the report ambly documents, there is a long way to go before girls and boys (and by extention women and men), are considered equal. We need to work on it both in our own countries, but also on a wider scale. Some foreign aid programs focuses on the education of girls, which certainly is a step in the right direction, but it won't help if those women can't get work afterwards, or, as is the case in some countries, own property or even make decisions.
In other words, we need an attitude change. How this is to come about, is still an open question.

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Blogger Kaethe said...

I'm all for documenting the worlwide discrimination against females, but the way this Independent article starts out gives me pause.

100 million girls "disappear" each year, killed in the womb or as babies

Equality and autonomy for females aren't furthered by equating fetuses with babies and equating abortion with infanticide.

Still, I don't blame Plan for the Independent's poor coverage. The reporters take time in a short article to mention rising obesity rates for girls, even though rates have been rising just the same for boys. They don't mention the UK's wage gap.

May 22, 2007 2:59 PM  

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