Stand Strong Girls

Archive for the tag “equality”

Room to Read

I recently heard about Room to Read, an organisation that works with communities and governments in Asia and Africa to run literacy programmes.  Room to Read operates in 10 countries in Africa and Asia. It builds libraries and schools, hiring local contractors and teachers. In this way money is put back into the community.

Room to Read

Room to Read logo

Room to Read also works with girls at secondary school level to help them reach their full potential. It provides mentors, workshops and camps to help girls in school. Room to Read helps girls who are moving from primary to secondary school as this is when most drop out happen. There are so many long-term advantages to girls’ education. Women often raise healthier families, earn higher wages and teach their own children.

I looked at Room to Read’s work in India, as one of the World Wide Women pages is about it. In India, Room to Read are mostly building libraries. Girls’ education is a large part of its work there, as there is still gender disparity in education. Although all children are entitled to free education in India, many girls drop out before finishing.

Room to Read sounds like a wonderful programme that is making a lot of difference and I hope it will continue its work for a long time.



Female sport debate

This is a debate I wrote recently, as the motion is relevant to the blog’s topic. Please comment if you have any questions!

Chairperson, adjudicators, fellow debaters, ladies and gentlemen. I am proposing tonight’s motion, that THW require broadcasters to give equal airtime to male and female sports. I will be discussing two reasons for proposing the motion: the philosophical and the practical benefits.

The opposition have stressed the point that everyone should have the freedom to watch what they want. Liberty is a valuable principle, however, the proposition also believe in the importance of equality. When liberty and equality come into conflict, we must make choices. This happens all of the time in society. For example, if someone came in here and started making racist comments, that person would have the liberty to do so, however this infringes on the equal treatment of others. In some situations, liberty must be curtailed to allow for equality. Men and women are equally part of our society. If their activities are not shown equally, it gives the impression that we do not value women as much as we do men. This is the most significant point where we clash with the opposition. They value only liberty, whereas we value liberty and equality, in balance.

Now to some practical matters, the proposition is interested not just in the broadcasting of sport but in the doing of it. Sport has many benefits. There are the obvious health giving benefits, it promotes physical fitness. Sport brings other benefits like co-operation and teamwork. Sport promotes ‘sportsmanship’, things like discipline and accepting defeat graciously. It has been shown that women and girls play sport less than men and boys. According to the World Health Organisation there is, ‘considerable evidence from around the world suggesting that most (girls) do not’, engage in sport, why? Boys have only to switch on the TV to see male sports players in matches, winning or losing. They act as positive role models. While sometimes sportsmen let the side down and act wrongly. They are, by and large, positive role models. These role models are not available to girls in the same way. Sure, the Olympics come around every four years and girls are inspired by sportswomen for a few weeks. Girls see Katie Taylor, get inspired and go out and punch someone. However, this doesn’t last long enough. Girls lack the role models that are visible to boys week in, week out. The World Health Organisation also says that there is an ‘evident lack of female sporting role models available to girls’. If this motion is supported and more female sport is broadcast, this is bound to increase girls’ participation in sport. Just as boys can have role models, so too can girls. Not just irregular bursts of female sport, but regular showings. Girls will be healthy, team players and highly disciplined. Everybody can benefit from that. All we have to do to achieve this is to support tonight’s motion.

To sum up, I have made two points in this debate. The philosophical reasons: it’s the right thing to do, to curtail liberty somewhat, sometimes, to promote equality. This is one of those cases. I have offered practical reasons for proposing the motion as well. Through the increased visibility of female role models, more girls will play sport and enjoy the benefits. These benefits will radiate out to society as a whole. I urge you to propose. Thank-you.

The query of the quota

Female quotas are a controversial issue worldwide. The idea is simple, enforce laws stating what minimum percentage of a political party, board, committee etc must be formed of women. This ensures that more women are employed or elected to roles of superiority. Well, that’s the idea. But does it work in real-life?

The benefits are obvious. It is essentially a way to force groups to become more balanced in their representations of the two sexes. Therefore, women are not so likely to lose the chance of promotion just because someone doesn’t want women at the top. It is a practical way of empowering women and promoting equality in an organisation.

Unfortunately, there is a downside. If this kind of policy is adopted widely, there are problems that could occur. For example, a woman could be promoted who is not as fit for the job as a man who also wants it is, but there is pressure on the group to meet their quota and so she is promoted.

It does depend on what organisation the quotas are applied to and in what country. Quotas have been suggested for political parties, the media industry, executive boards and sports committees. The success of the policy depends on the nature of the organisation, but I think it also depends on what country is is used in and the culture of that country.

An excellent example of the use of quotas is in the Rwandan government. There, women hold 64% of the seats in government. In Rwanda, 24 seats are reserved for women but last year (2013) more than double this number were elected. Another law in Rwanda states that any ”decision making organisation” has to have at least 30% women on it. This seems to be an example of the quotas merely encouraging and facilitating the opinion of the people that more women are wanted in higher positions.

However, there is still a lot of evidence against the quotas. Personally, I have mixed feelings about quotas being imposed. I think that there is another way of achieving the same effect. If there was an even stronger push worldwide for better education and opportunities for women then there would be more women qualified to hold senior positions in various organisations. Thus, there would be more women suitable for promotion without any fear of them being favoured in an attempt to reach quotas. However, this is a long-term goal and does not fit in with the common desire for ‘change now’. While this would not get over the issue that there will always be some people unwilling to change their opinions about women, in a fair organisation this should do the trick.

As I said previously, quotas are a controversial issue worldwide with many people strongly condemning their use. On the other hand, there are people who held that opinion until they were presented with evidence that quotas do seem to work. There are many arguments for and against the issue but in the end it all revolves on one point, are quotas a fair way for women to reach senior positions?  Well, as the comment box says, any thoughts?






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