Like their sisters all over the developing world, women farmers work hard to grow food for themselves and their families, and for sale. They plant and tend, fertilize and weed, harvest and process -- in short, do all it takes to produce a crop. But they don't get much in return. Their yields are low and, even if some crops are sold, the women may not see any income since men who take the crop to market may not feel obliged to share it.
When international development projects come around to try to change these conditions, they don't always reach out to women farmers. They assume that the women are not the "real" farmers because they don't own land or go to market, or because they have other household responsibilities such as fetching water and caring for children.
However, studies done in many developing countries show that women undertake a variety of farm work along with their household chores. Despite this reality, women are left out of projects that offer new technologies, improved fertilizers or training in practices that could help them produce more. Other studies show that when women have the same access as men to such farming resources, women could produce more, earn more and live better lives.
Fortunately, there is growing support for women farmers like those I met in Tanzania. It comes from the highest levels in global agreements like the G8 L'Aquila Food Security Initiative -- which committed $20 billion over three years for sustainable agriculture development -- and policies such as the United States Agency for International Development's Feed the Future initiative.
GO ASK A GIRL: A Decade of Findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute (PDF) summarizes the sweep of the GSRI's work over the last decade. It highlights the GSRI research and outcomes studies that have touched on timely issues relevant to girls' lives - and in many cases boys' lives - the impact of the September 11th tragedy on youth, the "obesity epidemic" and healthy living, youth leadership and civic engagement, body image and the fashion industry, girls' interactions with social media and many more. All of this is accomplished in a handy, 28 page booklet that's eye catching and accessible.
A report from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog, accuses the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest umbrella group for nuns in the United States, of taking positions that undermine Roman Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting "certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."
An American archbishop was appointed to oversee reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which will include rewriting the group's statutes, reviewing all its plans and programs -- including approving speakers -- and ensuring the organization properly follows Catholic prayer and ritual.
The Leadership Conference, based in Silver Spring, Md,, represents about 57,000 religious sisters and offers programs ranging from leadership training for women's religious orders to advocacy on social justice issues. Representatives of the Leadership Conference did not respond to requests for comment.
The report from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the organization faced a "grave" doctrinal crisis, in which issues of "crucial importance" to the church, such as abortion and euthanasia, have been ignored. Vatican officials also castigated the group for making some public statements that "disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops," who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."
Church officials did not cite a specific example of those public statements, but said the reform would include a review of ties between the Leadership Conference and NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby. NETWORK played a key role in supporting the Obama administration's health care overhaul despite the bishops' objections that the bill would provide government funding for abortion. The Leadership Conference disagreed with the bishops' analysis of the law and also supported President Barack Obama's plan.
Asia Society and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy deliver “Rising to the Top?”, a study that highlights the current socio-economic landscape for women in China and the region. The report discusses gender gap issues and presents policy recommendations to ease gender inequality.
A long time advocate for women and girls, six years ago she founded The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, which works with the entertainment industry to increase the presence and reduce the stereotyping of female characters in media aimed at children. She was appointed to the commission two years ago by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and elected chair last month. Governor Jerry Brown in his budget proposal has recommended eliminating the commission, so we asked Calbuzzer Susan Rose to interview Davis about the controversy and her work on behalf of women.
Q: What difference has the state Commission on the Status of Women made in the lives of women?
A: The Commission has served as an important link between many communities and the government throughout its 47 year history, focusing on those who most need a voice—the working poor, those with limited English language ability, incarcerated women, and those with least access to state government and services. The Commission has partnered with numerous groups throughout California and held public hearings around the state, thus making state government both more accessible to these groups and benefiting state government by bringing these voices to Sacramento.
UN report Progress of the World’s Women outlines ten recommendations to make justice systems work for women. They are proven and achievable and, if implemented, they hold enormous potential to increase women’s access to justice and advance gender equality.
The volunteer rate rose by 0.5 percentage point to 26.8 percent for the year ending in September 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About 64.3 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2010 and September 2011. The increase in the volunteer rate in 2011 followed a decline of equal size in 2010.
These data on volunteering were collected through a supplement to the September 2011 Current Population Survey (CPS). The supplement was sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. Volunteers are defined as persons who did unpaid work (except for expenses) through or for an organization. For more information about the volunteer supplement, see the Technical Note.
The Women's Media Center is using new crowd-sourcing techniques to track rape and other sexual violence across Syria in one of the first efforts to monitor assaults against women during military conflict in real-time.
The effort by the Women's Media Center aims to shed light on such assaults and provide possible evidence to prosecute future human rights violations and war crimes. The group launched its website on Wednesday and said it was working with multiple Syrian activists whom it did not identify.
So far, the group has posted more than 20 reports, including deaths, from May 6, 2011, to March 17 and is verifying others.
Among incidents reported are undated allegations, labeled unverified, from a Palestinian news outlet that Syrian army forces raped 36 women near the villages of Kurin and Sahl Al-Rawj and from a YouTube video in which a man identified as a Syrian military volunteer says government forces kidnapped and raped 25 girls in Homs.
Crowd-sourcing allows the general public to provide information and report events very quickly. Reports can be made on the website, WomenUnderSiegeSyria.crowdmap.com, via e-mail or on Twitter using the hashtag #RapeinSyria.
That was the parallax view presented last week at an annual summing up by the National Council for Research on Women, a New York-based network of 100 leading U.S. research policy and advocacy centers, which held a panel here at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Linda Basch, president of the National Council for Research on Women, pointed out women's larger share of poverty. "About 1.2 billion people worldwide--70 percent of them women--live in poverty," Basch said. "In the United States, the poverty rate of women rose to 14.5 percent in 2010, the highest in 17 years, so we have a way to go before gender equity is achieved."
Another disparity is domestic violence. While many higher-income countries have enacted laws, some developing nations still condone wife beating if the woman argues with her husband, refuses to have sex, or burns food.