Creative ways of representing the gender gap

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So, a bit more than 50% of the world’s population are women. About 22% of the world’s elected legislative representatives are women (see here) and the UK is just about average on this front.As of January 2014, 9 women served as Head of State and 15 served as Head of Government.(There are 195 independent states in the world).

Sounds a bit abstract? Here’s another way of thinking about it:

Here’s a picture of world leaders and influential politicians participating to the Charlie Hebdo solidarity march. Look at it carefully:

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish paper in Israel decided to photoshop and crop out female politicians, because their editorial policy forbids pictures of women. Let’s see how this looks like:

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Plan UK launch 2014 ‘Because I Am a Girl’ report

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Yesterday Plan UK launched the 2014 edition of the “Because I am a Girl”/State of the World’s girls report; which contains all the newest research behind world’s leading global campaign for adolescent girls’ empowerment. This year’s topic is “Pathways to Power: Creating Sustainable Change for Adolescent Girls”.

There is a lot to be said about it, and I will definitely dedicate it a few blog posts; for now, I only wanted to say that I am immensely proud to have been part of the team who made this happen.

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I worked for Plan UK as a research intern for 6 months, between November 2013 and April this year. This is where i learned how to do serious qualitative research, how to code in-depth interviews, how to work with surveys in Nvivo and make it spit out pretty graphs and various others such interesting geeky things; but most importantly, I have learned how to turn stories into data and data into stories with creativity and intellectual honesty- and how to do research that *matters*. I’ve been part of an amazingly creative, amazingly supportive team- and for this I am immensely, immensely proud.

More details later; for now I just want to celebrate. Go read the report! (Particularly the ‘Real Choices, Real Lives’ cohort study; that’s the bit I’ve been involved with the most).

Stuff Explained Sunday: What Child Marriage Means for Girls

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Since yesterday we discussed a Plan International report on adolescent girls’ perceptions of their own empowerment in relation to education, marriage, pregnancy and everyday interractions, this Sunday I am featuring an infographic by Girls Not Brides, on how child marriage contributes to gender inequality:
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To find out more about how you can support Girls Not Brides and take action, follow this link.

Report: Plan International finds 1 in 3 girls said they never speak up in front of boys

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In their latest report, “Hear Our Voices: Do Adolescent Girls really Matter?”, Plan International spoke directly with over 7,000 adolescent girls and boys (aged 12-16) in 11 countries across four regions; namely Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan), Latin America (Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay), Eastern/Southern Africa (Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and West Africa (Benin, Cameroon and Liberia).

This is one of the largest studies of adolescent girls’ rights and empowerment that any organisation in the development sector has ever undertaken and the results bring an amazing insight into what it means to be a teenage girl in the developing world.
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They found that girls feel encouraged and empowered to succeed in school (including- or perhaps especially the girls whose mothers have been denied education while they were young); 70% of the interviewed girls and 69% of boys report that adolescent girls ‘always’ or ‘often’ participate in class as often as boys; although, particularly in Asia, social norms around gender and seniority still prevent young female students from directly addressing the mostly male teachers.

Obvious progress is being made (due to changing social norms and mentalities, civil society programmes) as far as ensuring girls themselves, their parents and communities value the idea of girls achieving academically and professionally.

On the other hand, the burden of housework still falls almost exclusively with girls and women; and household work takes time away from studying

More worrying, over half of the girls in the study feel that becoming pregnant is never or seldom their decision; and only 38% feel that they have decisional power over getting married. Girls in Latin America and Southern/Eastern Africa feel the most empowered in relation to decisions about marriage: 53% feel that it is always or often their decision whether and when they get married.In contrast, in Asia, 69% of girls said they ‘never’ or ‘seldom’ control decisions about their marriage.

Girls feel even less empowered about pregnancy: 71 per cent of girls in West Africa, 55 per cent of girls in Asia, 48 per cent of girls in East and Southern Africa , and 42 per cent of girls in Central and South America reported they ‘never’ or‘seldom’ decide if they get pregnant. Girls across all regions said they are not educated about safe sex nor do they know how to prevent pregnancy Continue reading

Headlines in social science: objectification and sexual coercion

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Researchers from Bridgewater State University find that if a woman is objectified in a relationship, it’s more likely that her male partner will sexually coerce and pressure her. In the study, questionnaires were applied to 119 men and 162 women to measure how much men tend to think about and find importance in how their female partner looks and their attitudes towards sexual pressure/coercion (beliefs like “It’s the woman’s responsibility to provide for her partner sexually” and “My partner should have sex with me whenever I want to have sex”).

The results show that the more men focus on the way their partner looks, the more likely they are to scrutinise her physically and feel shame about her appearance; but also the more likely they are to pressure her sexually.

The study appeared in Psychology of Women Quarterly and can be read here.