By Irene Lew
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The American Association of University Women, one of the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to advocating women's rights, celebrates its 125th anniversary on Nov. 28. AAUW was founded in 1881 by 17 female college graduates and has more than 100,000 members today, with 1,300 branches and 500 college and university partners.
For years, the Washington-based organization has played a role in the fight for pay equity; a woman's right to vote; and legislation that protects women at home, in schools and in the workplace. Recently, AAUW's Legal Advocacy Fund has lent its support to Michael Burch, a plaintiff in a sex-discrimination suit against the Regents of the University of California. In a 2003 Title IX complaint, Burch claimed that UC-Davis barred women from participating in the wrestling program and terminated his contract after he expressed support for the female wrestlers in 2001. The case goes to trial on Dec. 5.
"Our mission is ever relevant and our role still critical even though, fortunately, there has been a great deal accomplished for women and girls since our start in 1881," said Ruth Sweetser, AAUW president, to mark the anniversary.
American Association of University Women:
"Educational Goals for Girls Remain Unmet":
"Chile Teens' Sexual Health Sparks Storm":
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Girls make up a majority of the estimated 115 million children who are not attending school around the world and UNICEF is calling on governments and others committed to universal education and gender equality to focus on early childhood care programs. With more child care available, girls are less likely to forgo schooling to care for younger siblings.
"Gender equality must be addressed right from the beginning of life," said UNICEF's Dr. Rima Salah. "Huge steps can be made to empower girls if we begin the movement for gender equality in those first years of a child's life."
A survey conducted by UNICEF and several nongovernmental organizations found that Zimbabwe had a high rate of gender disparity in its educational system, with a greater percentage of girls dropping out of school at the primary level. Only one school district in the nation had more girls in primary school because the majority of boys were working on orange plantations.
In a 2005 report, Save the Children, based in Washington, found that 58 million girls around the world are still not in school and, of those who are, 1 in 4 won't complete fifth grade. That can lead to disparities in literacy rates between males and females; a September survey by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization indicates that in sub-Saharan Africa more than 30 percent of female youth are illiterate while 20 percent of male youth cannot read.
Irene Lew is the editorial intern at Women's eNews.
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