Friday, 15 February 2013

Spotlight! Gender Equality and Well-being

This Week in Review focuses on our theme of the month, which is Gender Equality and Well-being. Highlights of this review include; the American army’s decision to allow women to fight on the frontline, International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, Wikigender's most recent online discussion, 1 Billion Rising and 10x10, an innovative new feature film about the power of education to change a girl – and the world.

This month, violence against women is at the top of global agendas, and with this in mind, Wikigender ran an online discussion on ‘Transforming social norms to prevent violence against women and girls’. The forum posed the question of what type of social behaviors catalyze violence against women and also looked to find examples of policies and initiatives that have most successfully dealt with the problem. Raymond Brandes, one of many contributors to the discussion, made a particularly relevant point to the notion of gender equality, stipulating thatRealizing the economic and social rights of all members of society and reducing inequalities are important elements of addressing violence against women.’ The full results of the forum will be synthesized and published in a report by the Wikigender team in the near future. To access past Wikigender online discussions, click here.
The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is observed on the 6th of February each year to raise awareness about this physically and psychologically damaging practice. Female Genital Mutilation is recognized internationally as an extreme violation of human rights and despite efforts from organizations and governments to push for its eradication, FMG still affects around 140 million girls and women every year. In the early stages of 2013, focus groups have made a concerted effort to tackle the concerning trend of health-care providers performing FGM, which has contributed to its legitimization in Africa, Indonesia and the Middle East (areas where the practice is concentrated most heavily). To find out up to date information on FGM, visit Wikigender's page on the subject.  
Yesterday, on V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, One Billion Rising mobilized thousands of people to call for an end to violence against women. The organization invited one billion women to strike and dance against the reality that one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. The movement is hoping to influence the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is being held in New York next month.

Interestingly, while much of this blog post has centered around global movements to counter violence against women, U.S Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently declared that the military would be eradicating its long-standing ban on women partaking in frontline combat roles. This significant change in policy not only opens as many as 237,000 new jobs for female soldiers but also allows women to achieve higher leadership positions within the army.  While critics have argued that the decision will alter group dynamics and unit cohesion, it marks a significant step for the women who have been seeking equity in one of America’s most male dominated institutions. The Wikigender team is currently running a quick fire poll to gauge the public’s opinion on the ruling, so be sure to make your voice heard.
Finally, there has been a steadily growing social media buzz over Girl Rising’s feature length film 10x10; which augments the pervasive power of education to change the lives of millions of girls across the world. The movement is attempting to break down the barriers that hinder girls from receiving education while highlighting the significant benefits it will bring to them and the global community. If you haven’t seen the trailer already, look no further!

Look forward to more Gender Equality and Well-being blogs in the coming weeks!
Wikichild Coordinator

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