Smart people saying smart things

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First of all, Grayson Perry. In the New Statesman. Mandatory reading for anyone interested in gender studies; or class studies, or identity studies.

“When we talk of identity, we often think of groups such as black Muslim lesbians in wheelchairs. This is because identity only seems to become an issue when it is challenged or under threat. Our classic Default Man is rarely under existential threat; consequently, his identity remains unexamined. It ambles along blithely, never having to stand up for its rights or to defend its homeland.”

Then, a series of interesting reactions to UKIP winning the by-election in Clacton:

First, a Fabians report on “Labour’s UKIP Problem” and how it can be overcome; by Marcus Roberts, with research from Ian Warren and Rob Ford (No, NOT the mayor of Toronto, the academic from Manchester who wrote “Revolt On The Right”!).

“There are five critical and high-risk seats under direct threat by UKIP, for both Labour and the Conservatives each:

• Labour seats under direct UKIP threat: Great Grimsby, Dudley North, Plymouth Moor View, Rother Valley, Rotherham

• Con seats under direct UKIP threat: Clacton, South Thanet, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth, Waveney”
IPPR’s Alice Sachrajada: UKIP argue that the UK needs to ‘get back control of its borders’ and should limit ‘the overall numbers of migrants’. Their main vehicle for doing so is leaving the EU, coupled with even tighter controls on non EU migrants. Whatever the merits of these policies – and at IPPR we’re convinced they would damage the UK’s national interests – reducing immigration in such ways would not, in the short to medium term, necessarily reduce the impacts of immigration.”
And finally, William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), on why Europe needs to make immigration easier
“The high-road scenario for migration has to start with a fundamental shift in perceptions; we need to correct the myths and misconceptions that surround migration, and so restore public confidence in governments’ ability to manage migration effectively. That means we need to reaffirm that discrimination and violence against migrants is intolerable. Above all, perhaps, we must create recognition of the overwhelmingly positive contribution migrants have made throughout history by launching an open dialogue about the role of migration in contemporary societies.”

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