Friday, 30 March 2012

Week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal.    

In the spotlight
Next week, the United Nations will implement Resolution 65/309, adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in July 2011, placing “happiness” on the global agenda.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on happiness

On gender equality
A report released by Human Rights Watch this week titled ‘I had to run away’ has found that almost half of all imprisoned Afghan women are being held for moral crimes including running away from home and adultery.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on Gender Equality in Afghanistan

On progress and the Arab Spring
According to the recently released 2010-2011 Arab Knowledge Report, education must be the top priority for post-revolutionary reforms in the wake of the Arab Spring; in 2007 data shows that 29 percent of Arabs above the age of 15 were illiterate, compared to 16 percent globally.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Arab Spring
On progress
In a message to the Global Human Development Forum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for global action for social justice and environmental protection ahead of Rio+20.

 On Child Well-Being
In a report titled ‘What are the chances of surviving to age 100?’ the UK Office of National Statistics has predicted that 35% of this year’s 826,000 new babies could still be alive in 2112.
See more and contribute to the WikiChild media review 

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,
Philippa Lysaght

Measuring ECCD progress: UNESCO's 5 new reviews

It is widely acknowledged that the assurance of effective early childhood care and development (ECCD) requires a holistic, multidimensional approach which encompasses the physical, cognitive, linguistic and socio emotional development of young children. Such an approach ultimately cuts across multiple sectors including health, education, social protection and nutrition and requires effective regulatory and policy frameworks to ensure its successful implementation.

This situation creates the challenge of not only facilitating the involvement and coordination of these different sectors, but measuring progress within each of these different components. Five new publications by UNESCO offer a review of indicators that seek to do this. Focusing on the areas of care, education and child development; policy and planning; social protection; legal protection and health and nutrition, the individual reviews provide an inventory of the principal indicators relating to five areas critical to ECCD as well as recommendations for the content of the Holistic Early Childhood Development Index (HECDI).

The proposal of the HECDI came about as a result of the World Conference of early childhood care and education (ECCE) organised by UNESCO in cooperation with the Russian Federation in 2010, where the ‘Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation: Harnessing the Wealth of Nations’ agenda was adopted. The action agenda invoked UNESCO to “to convene a working group to explore the development of an instrument capable of tracking progress towards EFA goal 1, with particular attention to quality and the holistic aspects of early childhood care and education.”

To develop the HECDI UNESCO has created an Interagency Technical Committee which is composed of childhood development experts from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Un Kilo de Ayuda (Mexico), Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF, the WFP, the WHO and the World Bank. This tool will assist in the monitoring and evaluation of ECCD initiatives and the measurement of progress within the different components of ECCD. It will also help to track progress in improving children’s general well-being.

It is estimated that the HECDI will be published in 2013.

Hannah Chadwick - Wikichild 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

March update from Wellbeing Wales

March. A month named after the Roman God of War and host of all water related Zodiac signs. But, given recent reports, the twin Piscean fish may soon be finding themselves well and truly out of water. For those of us residing in the UK every news bulletin heralds news of impending water shortages and summer hose pipe bans. But it appears that falling fresh water rates are a growing concern for the wider global community also. The Independent reports how demand 'for water is expected to increase by 55 per cent over the next four decades' yet more 'than 80 per cent of the used water on Earth is neither collected nor treated'. To put this into context, Anthony Cox, head of a water programme run by OECD, has revealed that 'more people in cities now don't have access to water than back in 1980'. Taking shorter showers and fixing your leaky tap may go some way to helping the cause but the enormity of the situation extends above and beyond domestic consumption. As Olcay Unver, co-ordinator of the United Nations World Water Assessment, highlights, 'Water is not only what we drink, what we wash with, or what we use to irrigate; it is also embedded in the products that we eat, consume and use...this gives us a totally different perspective to water – it is subject to trade policies, and one nation, or one corporation, can have an impact on water shortages somewhere elsewhere'. It seems unfathomable to imagine, as we sit here in in damp waterlogged Wales, a future where clean water is as rare a commodity as fuel. But whether we like it or not the warning signs are most definitely in place.

March also saw the return of International Women’s day. Now, well into its centenary, the day serves as a reminder of how far women have come in achieving equality whilst highlighting the imparities that still exist across the globe. In the Western world we are often dismissive of the impact of gender bias yet the figures speak for themselves. As The Independent highlights only ‘15 per cent of directorships on FTSE 100 boards’ are held by women. However, as diminutive as the figure may sound, it signals a steady increase of 3% since 2008. Hopefully, the inclusion of more women into higher profile roles will inspire all workplaces to lift the glass ceiling and allow for career progression based on individual merit rather than gender.
And finally, always ones to enjoy spinning a good yarn, we here at Lles Cymru have been greatly amused by the recent trend of ‘yarnstorming’. Cities and high streets across the UK have become awash with garlands of knitted figures and display pieces. Often appearing in the dead of the night, the knitted figures are causing quite a stir amongst local residents as they try to unravel the mystery of how they got there. London based collective, Knit the City, are largely accredited with starting the trend in the capital but it appears that the trend is ‘casting on’ across the country with the most recent spectacular display of knitting wizardry, a wooly celebration of the 2012 Olympics, being found running along Saltburn pier. Though it would be easy to dismiss the trend as a bit of frivolous fun, it does provide a new and novel way of encouraging people and communities to engage with their surroundings and take notice of the world around them. And that, darn it, is no mean feat. 

Author: Wellbeing Wales

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Democracy Not Advancing Around the Globe

This is a guest from Wikiprogress Coorespondent Bertelsmann Stiftung

The Bertelsmann Stiftung's latest Transformation Index ( shows: The quality of democracy in Eastern Europe and Latin America has worsened considerably.

Political freedoms are increasingly being curtailed in many countries around the globe. The situation has worsened in particular in many southeastern and eastern European states, as well as in Latin America. Moreover, despite many successes in overcoming the global financial and economic crisis, socioeconomic conditions in more than half of the world’s less-developed nations are inadequate or even catastrophic. Those are some of the findings from the current release of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI), which examines the progress 128 developing and transition countries are making toward democracy and a market economy. As the findings suggest, when economic growth is not channeled into greater social justice and political freedom, the chances of political repression, reactionary populism and social uprisings increase.

As the 2012 BTI’s long-term comparisons show, political rights and freedom of expression have increasingly been restricted around the globe. Of particular note are the worsening conditions in the politically most advanced regions of Eastern Europe and Latin America. In recent years the decline has been particularly pronounced in Hungary and Ukraine. Fifteen of the 38 states in these regions assessed by the BTI exhibit a decline in the quality of their democratic elections, including all Southeast European states, with the exception of Serbia. Increasingly, instances of legal infractions, bought votes, opaque campaign financing and purported fraud have been observed. Governments in a number of regions, including Europe, are increasingly restricting independent media or trying to intimidate journalists, something that has occurred in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Slovakia. In Latin America the quality of democracy has especially worsened in Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama.

At a low level of democratic quality to begin with, the situation has further degenerated in many countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. Basic rights have been further restricted in eight countries there, while torture and arbitrary arrests have increased. At the same time, however, many countries on the African continent are no longer threatened with becoming failed states, at least for the moment. Of the 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, governments in 18 have expanded their monopoly on the use of force since the last BTI release.

Experts believe a key cause of this decline in democratic quality is dissatisfaction with the socioeconomic performance achieved by democratic systems. People in East-Central and Southeast Europe, for example, are very aware of the different levels of prosperity between the countries they live in and those in Western Europe. This perception is heightened by the sociopolitical restrictions facing many governments as a result of limited inflows of foreign investment and the fiscal policy guidelines set out by the EU for accession candidates. The resulting loss of trust has often helped populist movements to gain ground quickly. In many Latin American countries, it is the resistance among ruling elites to reform or effectively address growing social disparities that has prompted many to seek forms of protests beyond established political channels.

Socioeconomic stagnation or regression are all the more problematic as economic development in many countries is, overall, quite positive. The impact of the global and economic crisis of 2008/2009, for example, was less dire than expected. Following minor economic downturns, most of the countries surveyed by the BTI were able to recover quickly and have stabilized overall. As the current BTI demonstrates, however, gains from economic growth have not translated into social progress, or have done so only to a very limited extent. Overall, 69 of the 128 countries surveyed have a socioeconomic level of development that the experts classify as inadequate or catastrophic.

“The BTI shows once more that economic growth does not automatically lead to more equitable social development. These are, above all, areas that policymakers must address,” says Aart de Geus, member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board. Current trends in the BTI countries underscore this point, he notes. Social disparities in Bahrain and South Korea, for example, have increased, despite economic gains. In contrast, a number of countries in Latin America and Asia prove that strategic, social and economic policies can improve the situation, something that can be seen in poverty alleviation programs in Brazil and Uruguay and educational measures in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The impact of no progress can be seen clearly in the unrest taking place in Arab countries, de Geus says. Even though Egypt and Tunisia have exhibited impressive economic growth, efforts to improve social conditions have been insufficient; poverty has therefore increased, as has pessimism among young people and rural populations. The result has been the uprisings of the Arab Spring.

In part, the BTI refutes the myth of the “Asian model,” according to which autocracies can have overall economic development that is more stable, reliable and robust than functioning democratic systems. According to the BTI, this scenario holds only in exceptional cases, such as China, Singapore, Vietnam and, to some extent, Malaysia. A comparison of autocracies and democracies, however, reveals that the latter score better in all areas, on average. Even China and Vietnam are far from the level of the top democratic performers. The “transformation leader” at the top of the BTI’s Management Index over the most recent period is, for instance, Taiwan. Achieving the highest possible score in 13 out of 18 assessment areas, the island nation contrasts markedly with the authoritarian development model being applied on the Chinese mainland. Though the context of political steering performance in Guinea, Mauritania, Moldova and the Philippines differs, each show considerable improvement in this area. Madagascar, Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire and Hungary have, by contrast, registered the largest losses in this area. The worst performers in terms of political management for this edition of the BTI are Eritrea, Myanmar, Somalia and North Korea.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) analyzes and evaluates the quality of democracy, a market economy and political management in 128 developing and transition countries. It measures successes and setbacks on the path toward a democracy based on the rule of law and a market economy anchored in principles of social justice. In-depth country reports provide the qualitative data used to assess these countries’ development status and challenges, and to evaluate the ability of policymakers to carry out consistent and targeted reforms. The BTI is the first cross-national comparative index that uses self-collected data to measure the quality of governance and provide a comprehensive analysis of countries’ policymaking success during processes of transition.

See more on the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index

Friday, 23 March 2012

Week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal.    

On the Environment:
OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 (Report Release)
The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 focuses on what is in store for the world over the next four decades by analysing the projected impact of demographic and economic trends. The report warns that with the global population expected to increase from 7 billion to 9 billion in 2050, there will be an increased pressure on the natural resources that provide essentials such as food and energy.
See more highlights from the report in the Wikiprogress article on OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050.

World Water Day (22.03.2012)
World Water Day was celebrated on Thursday with an emphasis on water and food security. World Water Day partnered with One Drop to create an innovative game that teaches players how much water is needed to create a meal while at the same time ensuring the meal is nutritious.
Play the World Water Day game and calculate how much water is on your plate.

Gender Equality
East Asia Pacific makes progress on gender equality, challenges remain: World Bank (People’s Daily Online 19.03.2012)
A report released this week calls for an improvement in women’s access to jobs and economic opportunity in the East Asia Pacific region. According to the report, eliminating inequality of opportunity in economic participation could increase workers productivity in the region by 7 to 18 percent.
See more on the East Asia Pacific region in Wikigender.

Child Well-Being
UNESCO releases 5 new reports reviewing indicators related to early childhood development.
The reports, commissioned by UNESCO, were compiled by a group of experts and cover five critical aspects of early childhood development (ECD): health and nutrition, social protection, child development and education, legal protection, and policy and planning.These reviews provide an inventory of indicators related to these areas of ECD, as well as recommendations for the content of the Holistic Early Childhood Development Index.

In the Spotlight this week: Global Human Development Forum 2012 
We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: We’re all doomed

This post first appeared on the OECD Insights Blog and was written by Patrick Love.
While we were launching the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050, a German TV crew was heading for the zoo in Limbach-Oberfrohna to film an earless rabbit, announced as the Next Big Thing after Paul the Psychic Octopus and Knut the polar bear cub. But the poor bunny turned out to be luckless too, since the cameraman stood on it and killed it. We shouldn’t try to read too much into this, but we will since it sums up so neatly the message of the latest Outlook: humans are causing serious and in some cases irreversible harm to nature.
The Scottish poet Robert Burns was prompted to think about these things when he destroyed the nest of a field mouse with his plough. The most famous part of To a mouse is when he talks about what can happen to “the best laid schemes of mice and men”. But he also regrets that “man’s dominion/Has broken Nature’s social union” justifying the ill-opinion that other creatures have of us.
One rabbit or mouse more or less may be no big deal, but the Outlook paints a depressing picture of what’s happening to life on Earth under our dominion. Terrestrial biodiversity is projected to decrease by a further 10% by 2050, with significant losses in Asia, Europe and Southern Africa. Globally, mature forest areas are projected to shrink by 13%. About one-third of global freshwater biodiversity has already been lost, and further loss is projected to 2050.
Climate change will replace agriculture as the fastest growing driver of biodiversity loss to 2050. Without a significant change in policies, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are projected to increase by 50%, primarily due to a 70% growth in energy-related CO2 emissions. Global average temperature is projected to be 3C to 6C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, exceeding the internationally agreed goal of limiting it to 2 degrees.
The GHG mitigation actions pledged by countries in the 2010 Cancún Agreements at the UN Climate Change Conference will not be enough to prevent the global average temperature from exceeding the 2C threshold, unless very rapid and costly emission reductions are realised after 2020.
Projections like these are probably familiar to most people interested in environmental issues, but other figures in the book may prove more of a shock, notably concerning health. We may be damaging the environment, but it’s killing us. Today, unsafe water kills more people than all forms of violence, but air pollution is set to become the world’s top environmental cause of premature mortality, overtaking dirty water and lack of sanitation. The number of premature deaths from exposure to particulate matter (which leads to respiratory failures) is projected to triple from just over 1 million today to nearly 3.6 million per year in 2050, with most deaths occurring in China and India.
The absolute number of premature deaths from exposure to ground-level ozone will more than double worldwide (from 385,000 to nearly 800,000). More than 40% of the world’s ozone-linked premature deaths in 2050 are expected to occur in China and India. However, OECD countries with their ageing and urbanised populations are likely to have one of the highest rates of premature death from ground-level ozone, second only to India when the figures are adjusted for population size.
The subtitle of the Outlook is “The Consequences of Inaction”, but the authors show that actions to protect the environment make economic sense too. For instance, global carbon pricing sufficient to lower GHG emissions by nearly 70% in 2050 compared to the Baseline scenario and limit GHG concentrations to 450 ppm (the level that keeps warming below 2 degrees) would slow economic growth by only 0.2 percentage points per year on average. The potential cost of inaction on climate change could be as high as 14% of average world consumption per capita.
As the international media noted, the data and trends the report sets out are grim. But the Outlook also proposes policies, and strategies for coordinating them, across all the domains it covers. The question is whether we will take the actions required. Too often we give the impression that we’re like skydivers whose only plan is to jump from the plane and hope they’ll find a parachute somewhere on the way down.
Useful links
OECD Environment Ministerial Meeting 29 March to 30 March 2012
OECD Environment Ministers will meet in Paris under the theme of Making Green Growth Deliver. They will discuss future priorities for action based on the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050, which makes a strong case for green growth policies.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal.    

Big data
SAS and UN Global Pulse have analysed over two years of social media data to learn that the ‘mood’ created by conversations held on these platforms can predict increases in unemployment. Around half a million blogs, forums and news sites were used in the study, one of many in the new movement to use ‘Big Data’ for human development.
Affect our social media mood and ‘like’ our Wikiprogress Facebook page

Pass the books. Hold the oil. (New York Times 11.03.2012)
The latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that education is a better economic driver than natural resources; students in Singapore, Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan stand out as having high PISA scores and few natural resources.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on PISA

Japan one year on
This week marked the one year anniversary of the major earthquake that struck off Japan's north-eastern coast, causing a devastating tsunami. This UNDP post explores the lessons the world needs to learn from the disaster and the importance of disaster risk reduction systems. 
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on progress in Japan

Gender equality
While significant progress in the MENA region is being made to close gender gaps in education and healthcare, many of the investments in human development are not equating to increased rates of female participation in economic and social life. The region has the world’s lowest labour force participation: at 25 percent it is half the world’s average.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender progress series article on achieving societal progress through increasing women’s employment opportunities

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kids in High Poverty Communities: 5 Ways it Affects us all

Success should be in the grasp of all children, no matter where they live.  However, the opportunities available to children based on their neighborhood vary dramatically across the United States.  For the 8 million U.S. children living in high-poverty neighborhoods  critical resources for their healthy growth and development-including high-performing schools, quality medical care and safe outdoor spaces-are often out of reach. The KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation  tracks the well-being of children and families in the United States and provides information for data-based advocacy. This means being the go-to place for data on children and families and we do that by partnering with local child advocacy organizations to track data  on children at the national, state, and local levels.  
Most recently, we looked at new data available at the community-level and found five major data points that highlight the wide reach of high-poverty areas and the impact it has on us all.
1.     There are more children than ever living in high-poverty areas. Nearly 8 million U.S. children live in high-poverty areas – about 1.6 million more since 2000, a 25 percent increase.
2.     Eleven percent of the nation’s children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level – about $22,000/yr for a family of four.
3.     Nearly all states saw the number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods climb over the last decade. States with the highest rates were Mississippi (23 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), and Louisiana (18 percent). 
4.     Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, Detroit (67 percent), Cleveland (57 percent), and Miami (49 percent) had the highest rates. 
5.     Research shows that children who grow up in high-poverty neighborhoods are at much greater risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success as adults.  These challenges exist regardless of their own family’s income.

The prosperity of communities across the country depends on their ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. A number of approaches can improve the chances of success for families in high-poverty communities, making these areas better places to raise children, help families secure jobs, access services beyond their neighborhoods, and enable them to move to neighborhoods with better opportunities if they desire.  We included some of the most promising policies and practices in our report.
The latest KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot on Children Living in America’s High Poverty Communities is available, along with data on our data center for the states and the 50 largest cities. Visit the data center to get this and much more data on children and families where you live.
About the author: Laura Speer is the Associate Director for Policy Reform and Data at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore Maryland, USA.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private, charitable foundation dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Inequality post 2015

This post was written by Claire Melamed from the Overseas Development Institute.

It’s just under 1400 days until the end of 2015 – the date which marks the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals. These goals, agreed in 2000, have for the last 12 years provided a globally agreed framework for defining and measuring progress on global poverty. One testament to their success is that the debate about what should follow them is now in full swing.

This debate is a chance to re-evaluate what is meant by progress, and to consider what’s been learnt since 2000 about how to measure it. One of the themes that keeps coming up is the question of how that progress is distributed within societies. There’s a strong desire for a new global framework to have more to say about inequality.

This is partly because of a growing social and political concern for inequality across the world. The impact of the financial crisis and resulting government spending cuts across Europe is shining a spotlight on how the pain from the crisis is distributed – who pays the price and who does not. It’s clear that across whole societies, the richest are bearing little of the burden, while the poorest are suffering most from cuts in government spending and economic instability.

At the same time, in India, China and other fast-growing countries there is increasing concern that growing inequalities threaten both poverty reduction, as inequality reduces the impact of economic growth on poverty reduction,and political stability. While these countries have seen astonishing growth rates and reductions in poverty in recent years, increased inequality threatens both. The example of Brazil and other Latin American countries shows that inequality can be tackled – a number of countries have seen falls in inequality in recent years, falls which are mostly the result of government policy choices rather than market forces.

The MDGs don't have much to say about inequality. The targets are all about averages. The target for income poverty, for example, is to halve it by 2015. For maternal mortality, it is to bring it down by three-quarters. The halving of income poverty, or the reduction of maternal mortality, is of course a tremendous achievement. But the people not reached are unlikely to be randomly distributed within a society – they will be the people most excluded by ethnicity, geography, race or gender. The MDGs don’t provide the incentives for governments to find out who is left behind, or to design special policies to reach them.

How could a new framework be designed to provide better incentives for governments to measure and tackle inequality? A recent ODI paper summarises current proposals, and considers the pros and cons of each. There are two broad choices.

One way is to include measures which focus on inequality across whole societies. A target for the Gini coefficient of income, for example, would encourage governments to measure income inequality and think about how to reduce it. Or, more broadly, targets which give progress on social indicators in the bottom income quintiles a higher ‘weight’ than progress in higher income quintiles would give governments points for both reaching the very poorest and tackling inequality across the board.

A second set of proposals focuses less on measuring inequality for its own sake, and more on providing incentives to ensure that the poorest are not left behind by progress. Specific targets for progress in the bottom twenty per cent is one idea, or universal targets which would mean that leaving behind particular groups would jeopardise achievement. Both of these would focus on bringing the poorest up to a minimum standard, but would not have much to say about inequality across the whole society – which could well be rising at the same time.

Reaching an agreement will involve forming some sort of consensus on what is the bigger political priority – tackling inequality for its own sake (the more ambitious project), or focusing on the gap between the poorest and the rest. Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and the ideal might be an agreement which combined the two, possibly to different degrees depending on the country concerned. But they have different implications for governments, for the technical issues involved in the measurement of progress, and for the groups whose role is to hold governments to account for the promises they make.

The debate about what comes after the MDG’s can’t just be a technical debate between measurement experts. It’s got to be a political one too – about what kind of societies we want to live in, and about how to get there. Building in a focus on inequality is very firmly at the heart of that debate.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

UNESCO World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education: A call to action

Twenty years ago, a young girl starting school in sub-Saharan Africa could expect to receive about five years of education during her entire life – and part of that time might have been spent repeating grades. Today, she could expect to spend about eight years in a classroom although the boy sitting next to her would likely benefit from an extra 18 months of instruction. This remarkable yet uneven progress comes to life in a new atlas on gender and education, released by UNESCO on International Women’s Day.

The World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education comprises about 120 maps, charts and tables featuring a wide range of sex-disaggregated data and gender indicators produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. The Atlas enables readers to visualize the educational pathways of girls and boys in terms of access, participation and progression from pre-primary to tertiary education. It also illustrates the extent to which gender disparities in education have changed since 1970 and are shaped by factors such as national wealth, geographic location, investment in education and fields of study.

Though the “growth in girls’ enrolment in primary education clearly demonstrates the successful mobilization towards Education for All movement, we must reinforce this movement if we are going to reach the most vulnerable girls and women who continue to be denied their right to education,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “We must attack the root causes of this discrimination and target our interventions. For example, the data clearly show that a girl who starts school late has a very high risk of dropping out. The Atlas serves as a roadmap to bring about real change in the lives and opportunities of male and female students globally.”

Globally, girls have been the first to benefit from the tremendous efforts made to achieve universal primary education, especially since 1990. Two-thirds of countries have achieved gender parity at the primary level but access to secondary education remains a challenge for girls in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. However, girls who do make the transition tend to persist and perform better in their studies than boys. As a result, there has been a significant rise in women’s participation in tertiary education, especially in high-income countries where female students outnumber male students. Yet as highlighted in the Atlas, these gains do not necessarily translate into better opportunities for women in terms of employment or income. 

To illustrate these patterns, the Atlas presents the school-life expectancy (SLE) of different regions and countries from a gender perspective. In this case, school-life expectancy reflects the average number of years of instruction that a boy or a girl entering the school system can expect to receive. It is important to note that a child can spend part of this time repeating grades.

The greatest progress in reducing the gender gap in SLE has been made in South and West Asia, where a girl can expect to receive 9.5 years of education compared to almost six years in 1990. However, boys continue to have the advantage, with an average SLE of 10.5 years. A similar situation is found in sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States, where girls who start school are now likely to spend eight and 10 years, respectively, in a classroom. Nevertheless, boys in both regions still have the advantage with at least one extra year of instruction. It is also important to note high repetition rates in many countries can diminish the impact of these gains in school-life expectancy. 

In East Asia and the Pacific, school-life expectancy for girls increased by 38%  between 1990 and 2009. Consequently, a girl enrolled in primary education can now expect to spend about 12 years in school, which slightly surpasses the male average. This is also the case in Latin America and the Caribbean, where a girl starting primary school can expect to receive almost 14 years of instruction compared to 13.3 years for boys.

“These data reflect the commitment of governments and the international community to close the gender gap in education. But there is a tremendous difference between gender parity gender equality. There may be equal numbers of boys and girls in the classroom but to what extent are both groups encouraged – or discouraged – to pursue their education and potential? To better understand what girls and boys are learning in the classrooms, UNESCO is developing new ways to measure the quality of education and the learning outcomes of all students, with a specific focus on gender equality.”

The print edition of the atlas, is available in English, French and Spanish, and will be accompanied – as of mid-May 2012 - by an online data mapping tool that enables users to track trends over time, adapt the maps and export the data. This eAtlas will be regularly updated with the latest available data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. 

For more information on the World Atlas, please contact:  Lydia Ruprecht, Education Research and Foresight Team, Knowledge Management Services, UNESCO.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal.    

Happy International Women’s Day!
On Thursday the 8th of March the world celebrated International Women’s Day with thousands of events highlighting the economic, political and social achievements of women. The theme for 2012 is connecting girls and inspiring futures. Our sister wiki, Wikigender, is one of the many ICT tools that are connecting girls and women across the globe and developing knowledge and understanding on key gender issues.
Read highlights from the Wikigender online discussion: How can access to ICTs promote opportunities for women and girls?

On Gallup well-being
College towns have toped the list of the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index with relatively high incomes, levels of colleague graduates and a diverse range of workers- all of which are associated with happiness and well-being at the metro level.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on progress in the United States

On the environment
UNICEF and WHO have jointly released the 2012 update of the Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation report. The report has found that an estimated 780 million still lacked safe drinking water in 2010, and the world is unlikely to meet the MDG sanitation target. 
See highlights and download the report Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation

On data
G8 Digital Shoot (On Earth 22.02.2012)
Our data trails could prove to be a treasure trove of digital information; while alone this data might seem to be meaningless, this article argues that if it is properly minded it could provide invaluable insights into human behaviour.
Interested in big data? Tweet us your ideas @Wikiprogress #BigData

On graffiti in Kenya
In the lead up to the general election, anonymous street artists in Kenya have taken to the walls to protest against corrupt politicians and to encourage residents to choose leaders who put the nations’ interests before their own agenda.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on civic engagement

Report release:

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,
Philippa Lysaght

Thursday, 8 March 2012

At CSW56, discriminatory social institutions matter!

Happy Women's Day!

Last week, Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, opened the 56th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the largest gathering of the gender community, with the following call to action:

“We need to remove discriminatory practices and laws. Women need equal rights and access to land, inheritance, and property. As one rural woman said, “When the land is in my husband’s name, I’m only a worker. When it is in my name, I have some position in society.”

Right from the start, it was clear that discriminatory laws, social norms and practices – what we refer to as discriminatory social institutions – were squarely on the agenda.

In line with this year’s CSW theme, the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges, the OECD Development Centre – together with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Government of Kenya – organised a side event on Empowering women through the transformation of discriminatory social institutions. We presented the findings from our research paper “Do discriminatory social institutions matter for food security?” We found that countries where women have equal rights to access land produced around three times more annual cereal yields in 2009, compared to countries where women have no or few rights to access land. Three fantastic panellists addressed the question of “what works” to change discriminatory social institutions, providing innovative examples including using a legal empowerment model in Rwanda to secure women’s land rights, popular education in Zambia to shift discriminatory attitudes and constitutional reform in Kenya. During the discussion, participants raised issues such as divorce rights and inheritance issues, especially when it comes to land; land rights in matrilineal communities; informing the CEDAW Committee on access to justice; and one participant from Uganda highlighted the usefulness of the Social Institutions and Gender Index framework to be used at country level as a powerful advocacy tool.

Across the various sessions of CSW, we repeatedly heard the concepts “social norms”, “discrimination” or “harmful practices”, reinforcing the powerful, albeit invisible, role of social institutions in undermining gender equality. I attended a session on “Rural girls and urban migration: the role of communications for development in bridging the divide”, where one of the panellists referred to a survey in Addis Ababa that found out that 1 in 4 girls in Ethiopia came to the city to escape child marriage or abuse at home. In another similar session on “Harnessing C4D Innovations: Transforming the lives of marginalised girls through ICTs”, UNICEF introduced “U report”, a free sms-based system allowing young Ugandans to speak out about issues affecting them and work together with community leaders to enable positive change: again, one of the recurring issues mentioned by young girls was child marriage. The need for better data to capture discriminatory social institutions such as violence against women and women’s access to resources was raised at a joint session on data and evidence organised by UN Women and UN Statistics Division, which we also attended.
Yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reiterated the urgent need to address discrimination against women in his International Women’s Day remarks, using research from the OECD Development Centre:

“Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but entire communities and nations. Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have significantly more malnourished children.”

Not only is it encouraging to see global leaders finally recognise the need to change discriminatory social institutions to empower women, but it is also evident from our side event that there are many inspiring programmes and initiatives that are delivering change on the ground. We hope that this momentum on discriminatory social institutions gained at CSW will continue and translate into real actions by international organisations, donors, governments and civil society – our experience at CSW tells us that lasting change is possible. We have the evidence. There are solutions. It’s time to make it happen!

Estelle and Somali from the Gender Team at the OECD Development Centre