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Women's Issues

Women's Issues

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Published by Azliza Asri
A Sustainability Institute's article favoring gender equity to achieve communities' sustainability (ie. empowering women to seek employment opportunities, eradicate poverty).
A Sustainability Institute's article favoring gender equity to achieve communities' sustainability (ie. empowering women to seek employment opportunities, eradicate poverty).

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Azliza Asri on Jul 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/25/2012

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Azliza AsriSustainability Institute (Singapore)www.si.com.sg azliza@sequoia.com.sg On February 13, 2008the AIESEC POL team held a forum with leading membersof Singapore Management University (SMU) faculty and women leaders from thenon-governmental organizations (NGO) sector here in Singapore.The aim of the forum was to gather like-minded students from SMU &Junior College students who are interested to learn more about the issue ofpoverty; to understand in greater detail the complexity of the issue from SMUfaculty (John Donaldson—SMU Assistant Professor of Political Science), aidhaPresident (Dr. Sarah Mavrinac) & the National Committee for United NationsDevelopment Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Singapore General Manager (SreyashiSengupta).Staggering & depressing facts about the state of the poor in the world todayset the discussion on poverty - with almost 48% of the world’s population living onless than $2/day as according to the World Bank recent statistics, students aregiven a glimpse of the challenges facing impoverished communities around theworld. Consequently, there are approximately 4 billion people living at the“Bottom-of-the-Pyramid” & it is a challenge for these communities to meet theirbasic necessities on a daily basis. Furthermore, according to the Center forBusiness as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB), one person dies every 3.6 secondsfrom malnutrition & related causes.Economic development factors such as educational opportunities, genderequality, access to basic sanitation, children’s well-being along with stablegovernance seemed to contribute to a communities’ ability to manage its povertylevels. Coincidently, women’s ability to gain educational opportunities is highlycorrelated to the rate of her children's success in the community (ie. literacy,health levels, economic viability for the mother & family). Gender equality is, thusan important factor to look at when needing to understand the complexity ofcommunities’ ability to remove themselves from the cycle of poverty. Womenusually are able to take better care of the finances for their children’s education orto source for the family daily food necessities (ie. Rice, water, cassava, sugar orflour). Additionally, women tend to be in a better position to alleviate their family’spoverty levels because of their nurturing personality.Sreyashi from the National Committee for UNIFEM Singapore shared withthe audience a story in India of a women’s struggle to gain some income whileworking on a farm (4 hours walking distance from her home) even till her last daysof pregnancy. She endured a painful experience while giving birth to her child in asituation that didn’t allow her the choice that women in developed countries have- clean sanitized surroundings. UNIFEM’s work is about empowering womenthrough programs, workshops & campaigns - ‘Say No to Violence against Women’,‘Day-off’ or the ‘Stop Child Sex’ campaigns. These campaigns are aimed to raise
 
awareness on these issues while also providing funds for participation throughthese programs too.aidha - a non-governmental organization that started in 2006, providesfinancial education to migrant workers in Singapore. Domestic helpers usuallyfrom Indonesia & the Philippines would take up classes such as career & moneymanagement, technology & communication, and advanced entrepreneurship &management classes. These classes are designed to develop participants’ skills &knowledge so that they are able to create small businesses (ie. hair salons, sundryshops) upon their return home - as a way to find means for financialindependence. These programs not only provide these financial skills &knowledge to the ladies but also build on their self-esteem that empowers womenin their lives.The topic on poverty is a complex issue that requires understanding frommany differing factors & not one that can be easily understood, but also not onewithout a solution in due time. It is an issue that requires thorough understandingof its complexities’ culture, native language & religion - especially, when carryingout development work on the ground.
Additionally, Dr Mavrinac shared with the audience her experience inthe Philippines last July when aidha was carrying out its research work. Sheshared her thoughts with the audience that we cannot fully realize the depth& gravity of communities living in poverty despite our years of research orimmense reading on the topic much better than the communities who areliving in such conditions on a daily basis. Our thoughtfulness, completeopen-mindedness & a humble understanding of their struggles along with asense of sincerity in wanting to aid these communities eradicate poverty isprobably a best first step. Despite such grime facts on the issue of poverty,Donaldson also encouraged the audience to see that the possibilities inalleviating poverty are present & abundance. It might not be an easy-enoughtask but in due time it is possible to reduce the percentage of communitiesliving below the poverty line. This is especially true with the presence ofNGOs such as UNIFEM & aidha; that are determined in delivering thestrategies, programs & tools necessary to alleviate poverty, specifically - tothe women in the community. Likewise, Sreyashi also believe that achievinggender equality is key to alleviating poverty.It is the ‘double dividend’ that is present in the notion that genderequality will improve the lives of both mother & children. Women with bettereducational experience tend to favor & are able to provide better quality oflife for her children. The education, knowledge & skills that these women areable to achieve are trickled down to her children - they become moreconfident in their decision-making (especially, in financial matters that areinclusive of the family’s well-being), better nourished children & the like.Moreover, women with higher literacy rates do enter the formal labor sector

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