News / Africa

Leaders Call for Investing in Girls

MasterCard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy and World YWCA General Secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda are among foundation leads at Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur.  (Credit: Women Deliver)
MasterCard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy and World YWCA General Secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda are among foundation leads at Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur. (Credit: Women Deliver)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Leaders of some of the world’s top foundations say much more needs to be done to encourage the hopes, dreams and ambitions of young girls. The issue was discussed at the Women Deliver conference in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.


United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin said investing in girls has long term benefits.

“If we don’t put a girl first, if we don’t start with a girl, we may never have the opportunity to help her as a woman. If you address a girl’s issues across the board, you have a really good chance of ensuring that she will have an opportunity to live a long and healthier life – changing both her life and her family’s.”

Maria Eitel, President and CEO of the Nike Foundation, said that often there’s a small window of opportunity to intervene on behalf of girls.

“The younger girls are full of hope – I want to be a doctor…I want to be a pilot…and with enormous hope and aspiration. But at that moment of puberty – at 13, 14,15 – it shifts entirely. And what the girl entirely talks about is barriers to her ability to succeed, particularly around the areas of violence and the area of economic duress for her family,” she said.

Eitel said in many countries the young girl is “painfully aware” that when her family faces economic problems her life can change dramatically.

“She will be the first to leave school. She will be the first to not eat. They are painfully aware of this. They are very savvy and they understand that their future is linked to their family’s economic future. They also understand something very interesting – that their parents are caught in a very difficult decision-making tree. They see that violence is very predominant, and they see the risks that they face. And they understand that their parents are trying to protect them. But they see that that same protection turns into exactly what prohibits them from progress.”

World YWCA General Secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda said that violence is a major obstacle to women and girls.

“When we have freedom of violence in our homes, in our communities, in our countries, we have opportunities to walk to the river. We have opportunities to walk to school. We have opportunities to be,” she said.

But Gumbonzvanda added that girls want and deserve much more.

“Our girls,” she said, “are asking for social and economic empowerment. Education, education, education and education.”

However, U.N. Special Advisor Dr. Nafis Sadik said when it comes to education, what girls want and what they get are often two different things.

“The fact that they can go to school is the decision of the family. And the family still in many parts of our world, especially in the rural areas and even some urban areas, preference is given to boys for the reason that they are the breadwinners.”

Sadik said that a lack of education often means a lack of life skills and awareness.

“They want to keep the girl ignorant. And, you know, there are hundreds of women, thousands of women in our societies, who get married and don’t know anything about sexuality and sex, and it comes as a great shock. They get infected with HIV and they really didn’t know that they could get infected,” she said.

MasterCard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy said there’s no such thing as a truly free education for girls.

“Even for primary education, which is free, the fees, which are related to uniforms, to books, to supplies, to events, become prohibitive for families to actually overcome. And those costs only increase as we move up the food chain towards secondary education and to university,” she said.

Investing in a girl’s education, Roy said, pays large dividends.

“The opportunity to invest in a young [girl’s], or an adolescent girl’s education, is nothing short of not only shifting her trajectory, but actually fundamentally creating much more inclusive societies; and creating economic growth, which is much more equitable.”

Women Deliver is a global advocacy organization. Its third conference in Kuala Lumpur follows meetings in 2007 and 2010.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid