sabato 28 giugno 2014

Messico, consiglio internazionale socialista donne

Puntare sull’istruzione delle donne per combattere povertà, malattie e discriminazioni

“La comunità internazionale e i governi nazionali non riconoscono a sufficienza l’effetto positivo che può avere l’istruzione nello sviluppo. E nel campo dell’istruzione le donne sono particolarmente penalizzate e discriminate. Basti pensare che nel 2011 ben 31 milioni di bambine non hanno avuto accesso all’istruzione primaria e che il 55% di queste non avrà mai la possibilità di accedervi; che tra i paesi a basso reddito, solo il 20% ha raggiunto la parità di genere a livello primario, il 10% a livello secondario inferiore e l'8% a livello secondario superiore. Quasi 500 milioni di donne sono analfabete, quasi i due terzi degli adulti analfabeti nel mondo”. 
Lo ha detto Pia Locatelli nel corso del suo intervento come presidente onoraria dell’Internazionale socialista donne, alla riunione del Consiglio della SIW (Socialist International Women) che si è svolta a Città del Messico il 26 e il 27 giugno.

“L’istruzione – ha aggiunto - è una sorta di passaporto per le donne di entrare nel mondo del lavoro e per avere un’occupazione più sicura e una retribuzione dignitosa, riducendone la povertà. L’istruzione è inoltre uno dei modi più efficaci per migliorare la salute delle donne e dei loro figli: aiuta a prevenire e curare le malattie, ed è un elemento essenziale per ridurre la malnutrizione e per migliorare la conoscenza delle donne sui rischi dell’AIDS , sulla necessità delle vaccinazioni. L’istruzione, infine, aiuta le donne a superare le barriere di genere che causano scarsa partecipazione e l'attività in processi democratici, e le incoraggia a rivendicare i loro diritti e a superare la discriminazione”.

Nel corso della riunione della SIW sono state approvate due risoluzioni: la prima sulle azioni da intraprendere per integrare l’agenda post 2015 a 20 anni dalla Dichiarazione di Pechino, e la seconda contro la violenza sulle donne.

Leggi il mio intervento

For the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, some of us jointly prepared a brochure on “The Millennium Development Goals– The Vision of the Socialist International Women for the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.
In the first session of this Council held in Mexico City, we are called to focus on some priorities we have selected. Chantal Kambiwa will focus on the priority of ending poverty,  Michèle Sabban will focus on ending violence, I will focus on the priority of education.

I think you do not mind if I skip all the introductory remarks on the theme, about MDGs unevenlyy performed, the need of the Post 2015 agenda, the Sustainable development goals, the RIO +20 conference…..
There is too much to say about why education must be a priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and I just have fifteen minutes, so let me put my fingers directly into the issue.

My speech is inspired and guided by the EFA Global Report 2013/4, (EFA is the acronymous for Education for All, and the Report is an independent annual  publication, facilitated and supported by Unesco.

Inthe first part of my contributionl  I will outline the present situation; useless to say that I will do it from a gender lens. Two reasons for using the gender lens. It is a matter of personal consistency as I have been  striving  all my life to promote and protect girls and women’s rights; second, if we promote women’s rights, in this case in the field of educations, we push ahead the rights for all, men and women, boys and girls (you will see what I mean during my contribution.)

Just one, sad, consideration, (assertion) to start with, (but also to conclude my contribution):

Education’s power to accelerate the achievement of wider goals needs to be much better recognized in the post-2015 development framework.

Unfortunately the international community and national governments have so far failed to sufficiently recognize and exploit education’s considerable power as a catalyst for other development goals. As a result, education has been slipping down the global agenda and some donors have moved funds elsewhere. And this is happening at the very time when education’s wider benefits are urgently, sorely needed to help countries get back on track to reach other development goals.

Some data (data of 2911)

Primary education
There were 31 million girls out of school in 2011; 55% of them are expected never to enrol (register as a student). They are definitively (for ever) out of school!
Almost 500 million women are illiterate, almost two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults.
Only 60% of countries had achieved parity in primary education in 2011; only 38% of countries had achieved parity in secondary education (gender parity means equal enrolment for girls and boys).
Among low income countries, just 20% had achieved gender parity at the primary level, 10% at the lower secondary level and 8% at the upper secondary level.

The interaction between gender and poverty is a potent source of exclusion. The poorest girls are being left behind in education progress. On average, if recent trends continue, universal primary completion in sub-Saharan Africa will only be achieved in 2069 for all poorest boys and in 2086 for all poorest girls.

Girls are more likely to miss out in primary education: girls make up about 54% of the global population of 57 million children who were out of school in 2011. In the Arab States the share of girls out of school is 60%, unchanged since 1999. In South and West Asia, by contrast, the share of girls in the out-of-school population fell steadily from 64% in 1999 to 57% in 2011.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the largest number of countries having severe gender disparity in access to primary education.

Secondary education
In secondary education, gender parity vary by region, income group and level (lower or upper secondary education).
As I said before, 38% have achieved parity in enrolment in secondary education. By level, 42% of countries are at parity in lower secondary education and 22% in upper secondary education.
The most extreme cases of inequality in secondary education continue to afflict girls.  The worst situation are in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme examples from other regions include Afghanistan and Yemen, despite improvements over the decade. In Afghanistan, no girls were in secondary school in 1999. By 2011, the female gross enrolment ratio had risen to 34%. In Yemen, the female gross enrolment ratio increased from 21% in 1999 to 35% in 2011.
Although many countries in Sub-saharan Africa have increase access to lower secondary school, the poorest girls in particolar appear not to be benefiting from these positive policies.
Income is an important factor in terms of gender  participation in education.
Just 20% of low income countries have achieved gender parity at primary lelvel, 10% at the lower  secondary level.
By contrast, in middle and high income countries, where parity has been achieved in higher percentage of countiries, disparity is often at the expense of boys in lower and upper secondary education.

From gender parity to gender equality in education

The data reported are referred to gender parity , that is equal enrolment for girls and boys. But gender parity is just the first step towards the goal of full gender equality in education.
What do I mean by “full gender equality in education”?
I mean a schooling environment that is free of discrimination and provides equal opportunities for boys and girls to realize their potential; I mean a safe school environment, improving facilities to provide, for example, separate la’trines for girls and boys, training teachers in gender sensitivity, achieving gender balance among teachers and rewriting curricula and textbooks to remove gender stereotypes. So, not only a matter of numbers, which anyhow count!

At the beginning of my contribution I said that the international community and national governments do not sufficiently recognize and exploit education’s considerable power as a catalyst for other development goal. Let me give some examples of how education is a driver for other developments goals.

We must raise awareness on Education’s power to accelerate the achievement of wider goals. Which needs to be much better recognized in the post-2015 development framework.

I will address three fields: the contribution of education to reduce poverty, to improve health, to promote democracy.


Education is a sort of a passport for women to enter the labour force. Not only.
Education makes it more likely for women not just to be employed, but also to hold jobs that are more secure, provide good working conditions and decent pay.
Improved literacy can have a particularly strong effect on women’s earnings, suggesting that investing in women’s education can pay dividends.

Children whose parents have little or no schooling are more likely to be poorly educated themselves. This is one of the ways poverty is perpetuated across generations, so raising education levels is means breaking the cycle of chronic poverty.
In fact for each additional year of mother’s education, the average child attained an extra 0.32 years, and for girls the benefit was slightly larger. Which means that if a woman has attended  school for three years, on average her child will attend school for four years.

There i salso an impact on pay gap (this is a campaign launched by PES Women). We know that globally, women are paid less than men for comparable work. The higher the level of education, the lower the gap.
Education makes particular difference in the Arab States, where women with secondary education earn 87% of the wages of men, compared with 60% for those with primary education.

BUT WE MUST NOT FORGET THAT In poorer countries, cultural factors and a lack of affordable child care facilities and transport continue to prevent women from taking paid jobs.
Women are kept out of the labour force not only by cultural stigma associated with taking paid employment but also by social expectations related to family size and household chores.

(the impact of education on health)
Education is one of the most powerful ways of improving women’s health – and a powerful way of making sure the benefits are passed on to their children.
Education saves the lives of millions of mothers and children, helps prevent and contain disease, and is an essential element of efforts to reduce malnutrition, to improves women’s knowledge about HIV/AIDS
It is estimated that 2.1 million lives of children under 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in the education of women of reproductive age. That is more than half the total of 4 million lives saved by reducing child mortality during the period. By contrast, economic growth accounted for less than 10% of the total.
If all women completed primary education, the under-5 mortality rate would fall by 15% in low and lower middle income countries, saving almost a million children’s.
If all women in these countries completed secondary education, the under-5 mortality rate would fall by 49% – an annual savings of 3 million lives.

A higher level of education of mothers reduces preventable child deaths as educated mothers ensure their children are vaccinated. Mothers’ education helps avert pneumonia, helps prevent and treat childhood diarrhoea, treatment and prevention of malaria. Even more: education is a key way of saving mothers’ lives: a mother’s education is just as crucial for her own health as it is for her children’s. Greater investment in female education, particularly at lower secondary level, would have helped accelerate progress towards the fifth MDG, that is improving maternal mortality , one of the goals that is most off track.
Every day, almost 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Overall, 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries. The maternal mortality ratio in these countries is 240 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 16 in developed countries. Over half the deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa and over a quarter in South Asia (WHO, 2012b).

Finally hunger will not be eliminated without education of girls and women.

promote democracy and good governance

Education helps women overcome gender barriers causing low participation and activity in democratic processes, and encourages women to claim their rights, overcome discrimination, foster women’s empowerment.
Education is particularly powerful in helping women overcome unequal and oppressive social limits and expectations so they can make choices about their lives, their roles in communities, including participation in decision making positions, starting from playing a role in institutions at local, regional , national level. Gender balanced institutions make a difference.


As you can see, there is evidence that education lights every stage of the journey to a better life, especially for girls and women, but also for society as a whole
As well as boosting their own chances of escaping poverty, getting jobs, staying healthy and participating fully in society, educating girls and young women has a marked impact on the health of their children and accelerates their countries’ transition to stable population growth, with lower birth and death rates. Moreover, educating girls and women contributes to broader social goals that are increasingly being recognized as vital elements for creating good societies.

The evidence which I have tried to outline underlines the imperative that education must be made accessible to girls and women, regardless of their income, their ethnicity, where they live, whether they are disabled, and of other factors that can compound their gender disadvantage.
At a minimum, girls need access to both primary and lower secondary education. And access alone is not enough: the education that girls receive needs to be of good quality so that they actually learn the basic literacy and numeracy skills that are necessary to acquire further skills.


Finally girls’ education helps prevent (avert?) child marriage.
Women with higher levels of education are less likely to get married or have children at an early age.
There are 60 million girl brides in the world!!!!
Almost 3 million girls are married by the age of 15 in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, equivalent to one in eight girls in each region.
These shocking statistics mean that millions of girls are robbed of their childhood and denied an education.
Ensuring that girls stay in school is one of the most effective ways to avert child marriage.

Education transforms lives by giving women more power on their own lives in a variety of ways, including having fewer children, which benefits their families and societies in general by bringing the democratic transition forward.

What can we do to contribute to foster education for girls, for women so for  all?
As the international community and national governments are in the process of formulating the post 2015 development goals, we must help raise awareness that it is a must to give education a central place in the global and national frameworks.
Education, education and, once more, education.
Using the latin language, we say: gutta cavat lapidem. Drops can dig stones. So let us be drops which dig stones.

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