Asia

Cash Transfers Encourage Girls to Stay in School

The Times of India

The Times of India reports on new research on a cash transfer scheme to keep girls in school and away from the altar from ICRW's Asia Regional Office. The research shows that girls who participated in the program are more likely to stay in school and that parents report a new, deeper understanding of the value of girls. 

The Times of India reports on new research on a cash transfer scheme to keep girls in school and away from the altar from ICRW's Asia Regional Office. The research shows that girls who participated in the program are more likely to stay in school and that parents report a new, deeper understanding of the value of girls. 

India's 'Womanifesto:' How Central are Women's Rights to this Year's Elections?

CNN

Dissatisfied with the government’s efforts around women’s rights, civil society groups have drafted a plan to improve the conditions for India’s women and girls. Priya Nanda, Group Director, Reproductive Health and Economic Development at ICRW’s Asia Regional Office, spoke to CNN on the need to work with the government to change norms in order to bring about lasting change.

A recent poll found that most Indians see combating violence against women as a political priority. However, dissatisfied with the government’s efforts around women’s rights, civil society groups have drafted a plan to improve the conditions for India’s women and girls. Priya Nanda, Group Director, Reproductive Health and Economic Development at ICRW’s Asia Regional Office, spoke to CNN on the need to work with the government to change norms in order to bring about lasting change.

It's Time to Unleash Girls' Potential

Devex

Girls have the power to transform the world, but they face many barriers along the way, including violence and early marriage. In this blog for Devex, ICRW's President, Sarah Degnan Kambou, writes about several initiatives that are working to break down barriers and lift up girls for generations to come. 

Girls have the power to transform the world, but they face many barriers along the way, including violence and early marriage. In this blog for Devex, ICRW's President, Sarah Degnan Kambou, writes about several initiatives that are working to break down barriers and lift up girls for generations to come. 

Mobilizing young men in India to end violence against women

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Madhumita Das, Senior Technical Specialist, Men and Masculinity at ICRW’s Asia Regional Office spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation about ICRW’s work engaging men and boys in efforts to end gender-based violence and advance gender equality. 

Madhumita Das, Senior Technical Specialist, Men and Masculinity at ICRW’s Asia Regional Office spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation about ICRW’s work engaging men and boys in efforts to end gender-based violence and advance gender equality. 

ICRW's Priya Nanda discusses violence against women in India on BBC World

ICRW's Priya Nanda joins George Alagiah of BBC World's GMT program to discuss violence against women in India, the stigma that surrounds it, and the importance of working with men and boys to change norms around gender equality.

ICRW's Priya speaks with BBC World's GMT host George Alagiah to discuss violence against women in India. Specifically, Nanda talks about the code of silence and stigma surrounding sexual violence, but points to an increase in reporting of sexual violence, even in rural areas. Nanda and Alagiah also delve into the importance of working with men and boys to change norms around gender equality.

New ICRW Study Examines Perceptions of Child Marriage in Bangladesh, India and Nepal

Wed, 04/03/2013

A new ICRW report examines perceptions of different groups about the causes and consequences of child marriage in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and offers strategies to delay the practice. 

Low education level, lack of community-based livelihood programs and widespread poverty are the primary motives of child marriage in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, according to a new International Center for Research on Women’s (ICRW) report, which examines perceptions about the practice from a variety of groups and recommends strategies to delay child marriage in South Asia.

The study, “Asia Child Marriage Initiative: Summary of Research in Bangladesh, India and Nepal,” explores child marriage through a qualitative study of stakeholders in the region. ICRW carried out the study for Plan International Regional to help Plan better understand the efficacy of its Asia Child Marriage Initiative, which aims to prevent early marriages in the region. The research was conducted in 2012 and led by Ravi Verma, director of ICRW’s Asia Regional Office in New Delhi.

This latest study builds upon ICRW’s nearly 20-year commitment to documenting the causes and consequences of child marriage and devising solutions to prevent it. Meanwhile, ICRW experts recently provided policy recommendations for addressing early marriage in nine Southern Asia countries and, in an ongoing program in Ethiopia with the humanitarian organization CARE, ICRW is striving to better understand what works to empower girls who are already married. 

Child marriage is one of the most prevalent violations of human rights in South Asia where 46 percent of children are married before the age of 18. It disproportionately affects girls, who are much more likely to be married off than boys. Although governments in the region are working to strengthen and enforce child marriage laws, the practice is deeply rooted in social values and norms and is often a result of poverty and lack of opportunities available to women. 

The research findings, gathered from a series of interview and focus group discussions with girls and boys, parents, community leaders and government officials, provide valuable insight into the practice of child marriage in the three countries, how community programs and government should address the issue, and ways to deter and ultimately end the practice.

ICRW researchers found that the cause of child marriage in all three countries is deeply ingrained in tradition and considered inevitable by children and adults alike. In most cases, parents’ fear of putting their daughters at risk of sexual violence or engaging in pre-marital sexual activity prompted them to marry them off young.

Furthermore, most respondents hold the age-old belief that a female’s primary role in life is to care for a husband and children. Poverty and lack of education was also found to be a key driver in each country. For example, girls from lower income families were often married young because of costs associated with education, a preference to educate boys over girls if forced to choose, and the poor quality of schools. A relatively less understood reason for child marriage that emerged was parents’ fear that their daughters would “self-initiate” marriage without their consent, damaging the family’s honor.

The study provides an extensive list of key findings and recommendations to improve current government initiatives and community programs, develop future policy and create mass media messaging in the region. If implemented, researchers say the study’s recommendations can ultimately help change perceptions and delay early marriages in South Asia and other regions where the practice is a major health, development and human rights issue.

The following is a brief summary of key findings and recommendations:

  • Education and poverty are closely linked to age of a girl at marriage
  • Engage men in efforts to prevent child marriage
  • Develop mass media messages that promote respect of the decision for boys and girls to remain unmarried rather than stigmatize unmarried girls
  • Universalize financial support for girls’ secondary education
  • Strengthen the identification and prosecution of parties involved in perpetuating child marriage, and enhance penalties so that the law becomes a deterrent
  • Policymakers should support programs to economically empower girls and women in locations of high prevalence of child marriage and in marginalized communities

Read “Asia Child Marriage Initiative: Summary of Research in Bangladesh, India and Nepal” to view additional recommendations, learn more about how researchers conducted the study and see an assessment of Plan International’s strategies in the region.

Beyond Quotas

New ICRW study finds that gender-responsive governance requires much more than women
Wed, 03/27/2013

New ICRW study finds that gender-responsive governance in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />India requires much more than women.

There is growing global momentum to foster women’s participation and leadership in the political arena, and specifically within local governance structures. India has been at the top of this curve as compared to many countries around the world: Twenty years ago, decentralized governance in India – which ensured that women hold at least one-third of seats in local governing bodies known as Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) – was established with the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution. But have these quotas really enabled PRIs to successfully address concerns faced by ordinary women in India over the past two decades?  

While we unequivocally support mandatory quotas for women’s political participation, sadly, we found that the answer is ‘no’. 
 
A recent study on the subject published by UN Women and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), whose findings are based on interviews with close to 3,000 men and women who serve on the PRIs in the states of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Odisha, make that abundantly clear. 
 
What we found was enlightening, if not altogether surprising.  Our study, “Opportunities and Challenges of Women’s Political Participation in India: A Synthesis of Research Findings from Select Districts in India,” reveals that ensuring women’s political representation through affirmative action is an important step in democratizing and stimulating local governance. However, the quota system does not automatically translate into effective governance, nor does it mean that issues of concern to community women will automatically be addressed. If real progress is to be made in responding to half of society’s needs, deep-seated cultural norms around gender roles must also be addressed.  
 
ICRW researchers found, for example, that elected female representatives who desire to run for another term are more likely to do so if they have a supportive husband who is helping with household duties. Among women who do not run for office again, we found that the number one reason for withdrawing from public life was the time burden of home and child care. And although we observed a range of attitudes among both women and men as to what role women can and should play in leadership, it was clear that PRIs are not considered to be spaces where gender issues, such as domestic violence, can be raised.
 
The findings from the ICRW study – which is part of UN Women’s program, Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Governance in India and South Asia – inform key conclusions. Gender quotas are an important tool for moving us toward our goal of gender-responsive governance, in so far as the mere presence of women can transform patriarchal frameworks. Yet we find that the simple adage of “add women and stir” is insufficient on its own—women cannot be solely expected to carry the burden of transforming the governing process into a gender responsive ideal. Additional work needs to be done—at the policy and at the individual level—to transform these spaces into truly democratic and gender-equitable realms.  
 
These findings come at an auspicious time, as we jump from one generation of women to another since the 73rd amendment was added to the Indian Constitution in 1992. The evidence it provides is exactly what is needed to inform new strategies and policies with the power to bring about a future where girls will not need a quota system to achieve parity in their local, state and national governing bodies.  It is a future well within our reach.
 
Ravi Verma, Regional Director, ICRW

RADIO INTERVIEW: ICRW's Nandita Bhatla Discusses Gender Equality in India

Wed, 03/27/2013

ICRW's Nandita Bhatla joins Indian radio show "Have a Heart" to discuss gender equality in India, ICRW's research with Indian youth, and what can be done to combat pre-existing attitudes and behavioral norms.

ICRW's Nandita Bhatla joins Indian radio show "Have a Heart" to discuss gender equality in India, ICRW's research with Indian youth, and what can be done to combat pre-existing attitudes and behavioral norms.

Listen to Nandita's interview here>>

Radio Interview: Gender Equality in India (Segment 2)

ICRW's Nandita Bhatla, on Indian radio program Have a Heart, says that while conflict is natural, using violence to resolve conflict is not. She continues to discuss violence and equality and says that violence starts with name-calling and teasing as children. Bhatla says that we have to shun violence in all forms.

Click here to access the next segment>>

Radio Interview: Gender Equality in India (Segment 1)

ICRW's Senior Technical Specialist Nandita Bhatla joins Have a Heart, an Indian radio program, to discuss how attitudes and everyday actions, even unconscious ones, can influence gender equality in India. 

Click here to access the next segment>>

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