"Because I am a Girl," a new report released by Plan International Australia, says that educating and investing in girls is one of the best ways to end global poverty. The report, released on September 22, found that women reinvest up to 90 percent of their income into their family and children, compared the 30 or 40 percent that men would reinvest, ABC News reported.
"We know from extensive research that mothers . . . are more likely to spend their income on the welfare of their household, so creating the conditions for the next generation to move out of poverty," the report says. Plan International Australia is a branch of Plan International, one of the world’s largest community development organizations.
Since 2007, Plan International has been studying 140 girls from nine countries across the developing world. They have been following them from birth and will continue to do so until 2015, at which time the Millennium Development Goals–a set of U.N. targets for eradicating world poverty–are scheduled to be met.
Ian Wishart, chief executive of Plan International Australia, said recent research by the World Bank indicates that girls that complete their secondary education and go on to earn higher wages boost economic growth.
"The stats show that the extra year of study of school results in 10 to 20 percent higher income," he told ABC News. "If you start multiplying that through five or six years of high school, it has a dramatic effect."
However, he added that report documents that many countries retain the belief that girls are not as important as boys, making it difficult for girls and women in developing countries to obtain an education and move on to employment. The study says that the economic prospects for girls in these countries are poor, facing more job losses, being removed from school and even being forced into child labor or the sex trade due to the economic downturn, Australia’s WA Today reported.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Command Sergeant Major Teresa L. King made history on September 22 when the Army appointed her as the first female commandant of its drill sergeant school in Fort Jackson, S.C., the New York Times reported. After a 29-year-career in the Army, she is among the 8 percent of women enlisted as part of the active-duty Army’s highest ranking soldiers. Sergeant Major King said she would make it a priority to recruit women into her school, the article reported. She enlisted in the Army when she was still in high school and within three years was sent to drill sergeant school. She was one of five women to graduate in a class of 30. In her new job, Sergeant Major King will have significant influence over the basic training of every enlisted soldier, the article reported.
- Women in Baghdad can enjoy their own personal Internet cafe at the Ishtar Internet Center near the University of Baghdad, reported USA Today on September 23. The Ishtar center was established by Azhar al-Sheikhli, a former Iraqi cabinet member and Iraq’s minister of women’s affairs in 2005, after she realized that many women were too embarrassed or intimidated at Internet cafes. "I noticed that the Internet cafes that we have in Baghdad are inappropriate for girls or women," she told USA Today. "I thought that there should be a special place only for women–a place they can visit, surf the Internet or even to have training courses." The cafe is currently being used by women to send emails, browse Web sites and to conduct research.
A new survey confirms that the recession is impacting American women’s reproductive health choices. Called "A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions," it found that 44 percent of women wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the amount of children they have because of economic concerns due to the recession, the Washington Post reported. The survey, released on September 23 by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health research organization, looked at approximately 1,000 low- and middle-income sexually active women in the U.S.
The recession has also impacted women’s reproductive health in other ways. For half of the 44 percent of women wanting to delay or limit pregnancy, the recession heightened their focus on effective contraceptive use, which has become an economic hardship. In the past year, about one in four women put off reproductive health medical visits to cut costs; the same proportion reported having more difficulty paying for birth control.
"Unfortunately, while delaying a prescription refill or skipping pills may save women money in the short term, it increases their risk of an unintended pregnancy and results in greater costs related to abortion and unplanned birth later on," Dr. Sharon Camp, Guttmacher president and CEO, said in a news release by the institute.
The study also found that in the past year, over 25 percent of the women surveyed or their significant others have lost employment or health insurance, and that nearly half of the women that don’t want more children were thinking more about sterilization.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- Amnesty International said this week that Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, with 1 in 8 Sierra Leonean women risking death during childbirth or pregnancy, Agence France Presse reported. "Women and girls are dying in their thousands because they are routinely denied their right to life and health, in spite of promises from the government to provide free health care to all pregnant women," the organization said in the article, adding that "less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities."
- The murder and persecution of women and children accused of being witches is becoming an international problem, experts said this week. Killings and violence against alleged witch women–often elderly women–are becoming common events in countries ranging from South Africa to India, according to aides to U.N. special investigators on women’s rights and on summary executions. Some U.N. officials tracking the problem said there were at least tens of thousands of related deaths, and that millions are impacted by beatings, deprivation of property, banishment and isolation from community life because of "witch frenzy," Reuters reported. The experts–U.N. officials, civil society representatives from affected countries and nongovernmental organization specialists–urged governments to acknowledge the extent of the persecution, the article reported.
An anti-choice campaign called "40 Days for Life" was launched on September 23 in over 200 cities, including 45 U.S. states, 5 Canadian provinces and Denmark. The campaign is expected to reach at least 212 communities. During the 40-day period, demonstrators will fast and pray outside of women’s health clinics and organizations such as Planned Parenthood. "If these extremists were truly worried about preventing abortion, they would work with Planned Parenthood of Montana to support proven prevention strategies and not spend the majority of their energy on this intimidation tactic," Stacey Anderson of a Montana-based Planned Parenthood told Montana News.
Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women’s eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.
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