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2009 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development

Women's control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance

Women’s equal access to and control over economic and financial resources is critical for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women and for equitable and sustainable economic growth and development.  Gender equality in the distribution of economic and financial resources has positive multiplier effects for a range of key development goals, including poverty reduction and the welfare of children.  Both microlevel efficiency results through increased household productivity and macroefficiency results through positive synergies between indicators of gender equality and economic growth have been recorded.  Development rationales for enhancing women’s access to economic and financial resources include women’s role as “safety net of last resort” in economic downturns.

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On Youth, Sexuality, Education, and Your Fears

According to his Twitter and profiles, Meitar "maymay" Moscovitz is a "technology geek, sexual freedom

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Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism

By Deniz Kandiyoti (Open Democracy, October 10, 2009)

War and mismanagement have produced a breakdown of trust, decency and reciprocity in Afghan society.  Gender activism needs to be understood in that context, and not be tempted by crude cultural determinism.

The lures and perils of gender activism in Afghanistan [1]

Those of us who work on gender issues routinely lament their marginality to discussions of the global economy, conflict and politics.  In Afghanistan, by contrast, I found myself in a context where there was an abundance- even an excess- of analysis and commentary, descending, at times, into "gender chatter".[2]  I recall a vague sense of unease over the tone and content of some of these contributions.  It took me some time to realize that there were good reasons behind my sense of intellectual and moral puzzlement.  The debates on gender- and their multiple undercurrents- were emanating from very different discursive universes, each following their own internal logic and apparently evolving on parallel tracks.

There are at least three distinct strands of discourse on gender and women's rights in Afghanistan.  The first manifests itself in debates among Northern feminists and public intellectuals -many of whom have little or no prior exposure to Afghanistan- speaking to each other "through" Afghan women. These debates are primarily anchored in the moral anxieties generated by the events of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing "war on terror".

The second strand emanates from UN agencies which, alongside various bilateral and multilateral donors, are applying their global prescriptions for "best practice" to promote gender equality to Afghanistan.

Finally, there are sharp internal debates in Afghanistan involving parliamentarians, clerics, bureaucrats, the media and local NGOs concerning the acceptability of a rights agenda that mandates the expansion of women's constitutional, political and civic rights.  These internal tensions reflect the power struggles between contending political factions that use women's rights as a litmus test of Islamic legitimacy.

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2009 Global Gender Gap Report

New York, USA, 27 OctoberIceland (1) has claimed the top spot of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2009 from Norway (3) which slipped to third position behind Finland (2). Sweden (4) completed the Nordic countries’ continued dominance of the top four.  The report’s Index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities.

South Africa and Lesotho made great strides in closing their gender gaps to enter the top 10, at sixth and 10th position respectively.  The latest data reveals that South Africa in particular made significant improvements in female labour force participation. Gains for women in parliament and women ministers in the new government also helped close the gender gap in the country.  The Philippines (9) lost ground for the first time in four years but remains the leading Asian country in the rankings.


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Practical Measures Needed on Teen Sexual Education

By Susan Anyangu

MOMBASA, Oct 27 (IPS) - Kenyan teenagers are having sex. And they appear to have no clue how to go about it.

A report by the Nairobi-based Centre for the Study of Adolescents (CSA) reports that 40 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys reported having had sex before their 19th birthday, a significant minority reported having sex with more than one partner in the previous six months.  The report also confirms what many youth workers observe in their daily work: the youth are having sex but they lack vital information on sexual and reproductive health.

IPS visited St Georges Boys Secondary School in Kaloleni, Kilifi, in Kenya's Coast province, and found that myths abound among the youth where matters of sexuality are concerned.

Seventeen-year-old Isaac Thura said he had been told that if one has sex while standing, pregnancy will not occur.  His 16-year-old classmate Billy Warui said a friend told him that sex is important to strengthen a relationship.  The boys admitted that they do not talk to their parents about sexual matters because the subject is taboo.

When asked which they feared more between pregnancy and contracting HIV, a majority of the boys said they would rather contract the virus.

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Mentors to boost breastfeeding

SAN, 23 October 2009 (IRIN) - Have you checked in with your breastfeeding support group? If you were a woman who gave birth in one of Mali’s 48 “baby-friendly hospitals”, you should have been assigned to one that checked up on you – often as soon as minutes after the delivery.

In San village, 380km north of the capital Bamako, dozens of mothers in 2005 formed the “Good Mothers” group – known in the local language as Denbanyuma –to tell new mothers about the all-milk rule; 660 mothers across the country are trained to do the same as part of a government child survival programme adopted in 2007, according to the Health Ministry.

“Before, women fed their newborns tea and water without knowing the consequences of this practice,” San mothers’ group leader Aïssa Tangara Traoré told IRIN. The UN has estimated that 300,000 babies could be saved every year in West Africa if they were fed only mother’s milk for the first six months rather than formula, tea, water or food as is generally the case.

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Increased condom use among sex workers but more education needed

ADDIS ABABA, 23 October 2009 (PlusNews) - With non-skilled jobs in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, paying as little as US$16 per month, the financial incentives to engage in commercial sex work are overwhelming - earning 30 times a domestic worker’s salary.

Many of the women entering into sex work in Addis are rural migrants who have failed to secure formal employment, or are escaping poor-paying jobs in the city or unwanted marriages in the country, according to a 2008 article published by the UK's Royal Geographical Society.

Teguest, a 16-year-old girl from Gonder, a town 700km northwest of Addis Ababa, fled to the capital four months ago after the death of her parents and a dispute with her brothers.

The relative she contacted in the capital was already engaged in sex work, so the decision to enter the trade was an easy one. Teguest charges 10 Ethiopian Birr or $0.80 per client and has sex with as many as 20 men a day in her tiny room; she is adamant that under no circumstances would she have unprotected sex.

"No, I would not do that for any money. I need my life," she said. "They sometimes offer 200 Birr [$16] and beg me, but life is more important than money."

Teguest says in the past four months, at least 10 men have asked her for unprotected sex at a higher fee.

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Lifting Silence on Menstruation to Keep Girls in School

By Joshua Kyalimpa

KAMPALA, Oct 22 (IPS) - More than half of Ugandan girls who enrol in grade one drop out before sitting for their primary school-leaving examinations.

The fact that girls are dropping out between age 11 and 13 is being linked to the beginning of the menstruation cycle and its associated challenges.

Research conducted by a non-government organisation, the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE), reveals that the lack of sanitary pads, coupled with other factors like the absence of water or separate toilet facilities for girls in many schools, is responsible for the drop-out rate.

Despite tax waivers introduced to reduce the cost of sanitary pads, finding money to buy them each month is a challenge for many grown women, never mind pre-teen girls.

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Global Gender Pay Gap Bigger Than Previously Thought

A new study covers the impact of the economic crisis on women’s jobs and incomes and reveals costs of violence against women

Brussels, 5 March 2009: A new report released by the ITUC for March 8, International Women’s Day, has revealed that the pay gap between men and women worldwide may be much higher than official government figures. The report, “Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market”, is based on survey results of some 300,000 women and men in 20 countries. It puts the global pay gap at up to 22%, rather than the 16.5% figure taken from official government figures and released by the ITUC on March 8 last year.

The report also confirms previous findings that union membership, and particularly the inclusion of women in collective bargaining agreements, leads to much better incomes for both women and men, as well as better pay for women relative to their male co-workers. The study, which follows the March 8 ITUC Global Gender Pay Gap report, was written by London-based pay specialists Incomes Data Services and is based on internet surveys conducted in industrialised and developing countries in 2008 by the WageIndicator Foundation.

“This report clearly confirms the advantage which men and women workers gain from union membership, which is all the more important in the current global economic crisis when jobs and living standards for millions of workers are under severe threat,” said Guy Ryder, ITUC general secretary.

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Back-street abortions underline need for sex education

NAIROBI, 19 October 2009 (PlusNews) - Julia Nyaberi's* "clinic" in Majengo, a slum in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, caters to one type of client only - pregnant women seeking abortions.

Young women writhe in pain on the floor of the poorly lit house; the neighbours all know what happens here and have become immune to the moans and wails.

"They come to me and each pays me 50 shillings [US$0.70]," Nyaberi told IRIN/PlusNews. "Most of them are sex workers who operate here in Majengo and have conceived by mistake."

She uses a concoction of herbs to induce abortion, and admits there have been fatalities. "Even qualified drivers at times cause accidents; I do not do this job to kill anyone, but at times some are unlucky and go together with the child they came to abort," she said.

Diana Awuor*, 21, is a sex worker in Majengo, and fell pregnant after unprotected sex with a regular client.

"Not that I have sex without a condom every day but there are some regular clients you can excuse at times and I think that is how I became pregnant," she said. "We cannot do our work while pregnant because nobody will want you, so I have to abort to stay in business, and also, I don't want a baby."

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