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Arvin Panwar

Innovator, TEDxTokyo

TEDCRED 500+

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What projects can help girls in developing countries?

There is so much of awareness about girl child compared to yesteryear, which is definitely a good sign. However I feel we still far behind in implementing projects which are meaningful to girl child especially in the developing or the underdeveloped world.
So I was wondering what sort of projects can be implemented in developing world especially for girl child? Education is one area where there is lot of focus these days however honestly speaking even the education system is broken? Also there is emphasis on life skills, livelihood trainings, but what would be more meaningful for 10 or 12 years old girl?

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    Oct 23 2012: Education is the key factor here. We should educate our boys and girls about the ramifications of sexism and stereotypes. A child is a blank slate. We load them up with all this information, and then wonder why these kids are coming out all jacked up.

    () You at birth.

    (x,y,z) You at age 21

    (x2,y2+n,r+x(2x)-(9x)) You at age 41

    We need to dive deep into these variables to understand the problem.
    (f) - Female

    (f+L) Female + Language

    (f+L+y1) Year one

    (f+L+y1-1/2+y2) Year two - Year one is still present. However, degredation of information will occur in children. They will not remember everything. However, they will keep core concepts such as walking, eating, and understanding how to get attention.

    (f+L+y1-3/4+y2-1/2+y3) Year three

    Ok now let's get to the point that a female has issues. (f+L+y1..y2...y3...etc)

    The entire string would be too long..so let's get down to the actual "error" in her code. ....

    year 21 (PT(death in family) - OPS - IPS +/- EF)

    PT - Phsychological Trauma

    OPS - Outside Psychological Support - Family, friends, peers.

    IPS - Inside Psychological Support - Your ability to cope with trauma, stress, or other life experiences.

    EF - Environmental Factors - Where you are....the weather conditions....dangerous environments....safe environments. They all provide different influencial factors.

    OPS and IPS are key ingredients in any program. If you don't have both...you have failure.

    OPS - We need programs that allow these girls to interract with positive people.

    IPS - We need programs that establish a deep reaching psychological treatment process. These females, for lack of a better word, need to be reprogrammed.
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    Oct 24 2012: I agree with the majority here that the first step is education. There must be substance behind the personna. The sad truth is that the target population you have identified, developing countries, still have many taboos regarding women. The issue is not can a women do it, but rather would the male dominate societies in those countries allow it.

    The best way to defeat this old world thought is to become a part of the existing party structures, movements, and areas where you have a interest. By you example of work ethics, sound application of working models, and a demonstrated base of educational ability you will be recognized as a "doer", "shaker", "mover" and a necessary member of the team. Once established then the doors will become more open.

    These things will not occur over night. Much will depend on who you hitch your wagon to. If a very influencial person takes you under their wing then you have the halo effect. This works in your advantage only as long as they remain popular.

    Upon "arriving" it is important for you to take on someone to mentor yourself. This is important as many who arrive forget the process and problems they faced and do not mentor another.

    I see no quick and easy answer. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The first step here is involvement. do your research, and selct your fights carefully for you will be know for them and tied to them forever.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Oct 28 2012: Thx Bob, seems like you had your share of working in developing world :)
      Yes, men still dominate in this part of the world and in most of the cases they are the family heads. However the good point is that most of the families in our state do support the education of girl child which is quite promising however again the opportunities they have are very limited. This is where we hope to bring improvements so that they can become better citizens tomorrow.
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    Oct 24 2012: Arvin,
    -Educating/coaching the girls based on their interests rather than a standard curriculum eg.sports, science, art, business..
    -Incorporating co-op based training projects
    -Workshops on life skills , leadership, business
    may help the girls to be self-sufficient especially if they are unable to pursue further education.
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      Oct 28 2012: Thx Madhavi, yup, we are thinking of imparting some life skills related trainings along with product making options which may help them in future. However I'm still looking at some innovative examples
  • Oct 22 2012: As males and females grow up, they are exposed to and internalize societal messages about appropriate behaviors for men versus women. Often these gender norms encourage roles and behaviors that are inequitable and harmful, which can place men and their sexual partners at risk of various negative health outcomes, including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

    As part of this socialization process, styles of interaction in intimate relationships are often “rehearsed” during adolescence, and continue into adult relationships. Young men mature in a male-dominated context, with little or no sex education. Under these circumstances, masculinity often becomes characterized by male sexual dominance, unequal gender attitudes and behaviours, harassment or teasing of young women by men.

    Negative consequences include gender-based violence, sexual abuse of women as expressions of masculinity. For example some young men may feel pressure to prove their sexual prowess by having unprotected sexual relationships, & feel hindered from seeking information about sexual and reproductive health and HIV issues, and face peer pressure to prove their dominance over girls. Young men have misperceptions about their own bodies, about HIV/STI transmission.

    Young men often view sexual initiation as a way to demonstrate that they are “real” men; that is, to affirm their identity as men. Boys often feel that they must repeatedly prove their manhood through sexual activity leading to risk of HIV and STI.

    So the dream project is to create a gender equitable society through dialogue with males as well as females on responsible behaviour, and mutual respect. We have made small beginning through C- Life training of RRC Youth on gender in Kangra (HP).
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    Oct 28 2012: I like the suggestions being made here.Educations is indeed the first and foremost tool!
  • Oct 28 2012: I recently had the opportunity of interacting with a group of NSS students of age group 16-18 years at Rajpur, about 50 kn from Dharamshala. We engaged with children, on a dialogue on self realisation (not spiritual) - with focus to expose them to communication and personality development. We also brainstormed on problems of society and how each of us can contribute towards change personally.

    I learnt form this experience that girl children need to be engaged in dialogue on their vision, aim, skills needed for achieving the goals- sot hat they have clarity of purpose- and can focus their energy. Also interventions for personality development of girl children in government schools is the need of the hour.

    More important, is to sesnsitise the teacher and male children also on gender issues, and there is denial of gender issues esp among males. presently teachers are not trained to address these issues. Some social activists can facilitate small changes and create models.
  • Oct 26 2012: Have you heard of the work done by the Girl Hub? http://girlhub.squarespace.com/about/

    Have a watch of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8xgF0JtVg It's part funded by the Nike Foundation but I think is still making quite big steps, which seem to be having a positive impact on quite a big scale already.

    I'd be interested to hear what people think!
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    Oct 25 2012: 10 or 12 year old girls in developing countries, well educated and prepared to become the next, the better generation, have one major problem today: After school, they do have to return HOME!

    The stereotyping, the setting of role models does not happen at modern schools today, I suppose, the 'branding' of those girls happens at home, in their families, their communities, by their very own parents and relatives.

    The clash of generations therefore is inevitable, most likely destructive and also most likely dominated by the older generation involved, if this is not prevented.

    What do you do as a girl in the age of 10, better educated than your father, yet much less powerful in physical strength? What options do you really have if your view of the future is negated by the closest ones arround you? What if your mother, even if she is on your side, shy's the conflict she had to face to support you and your future freedom?

    In my opinion it is not just a matter of educating the young, but also the old generation which currently keeps the power of decision making within the families. Yet not just education, as I assume, as this may not be powerful enough for a change, due to the resistence of 'stupidity' and false believes, which are not been seen as such by those who inherit them. There was to implement a set of legal counter-measures to support those young girls against their closest dominant figures, so that there was at least a chance for them to get them removed - temporarely or constantly - if necessary. And because in most cases this would also eliminate the bred winner of the family, there was a high need for financial support in all of those drastic cases.

    I know that this does not only sound harsh, it really is, and one could ask if a legal system is allowed to interfere in those matters, but I just don't see any other way to break old traditions and rituals for a better within a shorter timeframe as they otherwise may just naturally erode... MAY erode ...
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      Oct 28 2012: True, the generation gap has to be answered. And parents / elders have to be educated also. A long process but something really important, else the kid may suffer.
      May be its a role that can be initially played by NGOs/ CBOs and later we can look into legal systems. In India we have a service for children where they can call and register complaints but how effective is that is to be seen
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    Oct 22 2012: In South Africa there is a take-a-girl-to-work Friday; a day of the week at certain times of the year set aside for women that are already established in their careers to take a young school girl to work so that she can be exposed to the way the particular profession/industry works.
    The less-busy closing weeks of the school term is usually chosen and it does get so much media attention. This is a very helpful experience for young girls.

    But I think education is the most important legacy for the girl-child; it may seem as if snail-speed progress is being made; but it does make a huge difference. Slowly but surely we are getting there.
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      Oct 23 2012: This take-a-daughter-to-work day existed here as well until people protested the inequity and broadened it to incliude all children.
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    Oct 22 2012: What about offering the same projects and opportunities as to ten and twelve year old boys and encouraging the girls to take full advantage of them? This may require some outreach if the girls or parents are reluctant.
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      Oct 22 2012: Hey Fritzie,
      Could you please elaborate with an example? And also what sort of Impact do you expect ?
      cheers
      Arvin
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        Oct 22 2012: I wasn't specific , because what to add in will depend on what is already being offered.

        Education comes first, with equitable assess and encouragement to engage in whatever subjects and activities are welcome for the boys.

        Beyond school there may be sports, leadership, or community service opportunities that are now available in some places to boys and not yet to girls.

        If there are what here are called "field trips" to places that give young people a sense of what professional people in the community do on a daily basis, these should be used to give girls an opportunity to visualize themselves ten and twenty years in the future engaged in such activities as surely as the boys are exposed to such opportunities.

        I see you write from India, where there are large numbers of successful women in many fields, including science, medicne, and engineering, right? It is important for girls to see women engaged in interesting work of all kinds.
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          Oct 28 2012: Thx Fritzie, field trips could be a potentially good opportunity for kids to learn from a completely different environment though it could be a constraint when funds are limited.