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Global
Gathering Gender Data For Change
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Current trajectories towards gender equality will not get us the world we want. According to estimates, it will take another 50 years to achieve gender parity in politics; 118 years for parity in women’s participation in the economy; and 95 years to reach parity in girls’ lower secondary education for the poorest 20 per cent are out of sync with the urgency of change. No one can wait that long. A break in the status quo is needed but that can’t be done in isolation. Key to a new pace of change are wide-ranging partnerships, a sharper, better informed focus on the break points for change, and ensuring adequate levels of financing. However, at the heart of these is the increased clarity and integrity of planning and action that comes from hard facts - DATA. On any given day, it is estimated that globally we produce 2.5 quadrillion bytes of data. Yet, when it comes to measuring gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls we are “data-poor”. Making Every Woman and Girl Count is a new public-private partnership under which $65 million will be spent over five-year to close the gender data gaps for SDG monitoring and accountability and build an integrated evidence base that can inform more effective and targeted decision-making.

‘We need time-use data in order to understand the extent of women’s paid and unpaid work and the challenges they face in balancing the two. Unpaid care work is a key barrier to women earning a decent living and moving out of a repeating cycle of poverty.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: QQQP919 750 words


India
Twelve Women’s Groups, One Dream: Total Sanitation
Kirthi Jayakumar

Ever since the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) has been initiated there have been many interesting, innovative ways in which communities have taken ownership of Mission Sanitation. Let’s travel to the countryside of Tamil Nadu, where the village councils, local women and technology have come together in a seamless manner to not only ensure that every home has a toilet but that families are indeed making use of them. With the support of Arghyam, a Bengaluru-based foundation, a mobile application has been developed which facilitates grassroots women in three blocks of Dindigul district in collecting and sharing all the relevant information related to the status of sanitation in their area – from the number of toilets to be built to the stage of construction to financial details like loan disbursement and repayment, and so on – so that authorities, village and block level, are in the know and work can be monitored and completed on time. Apart from this, the app which is being used with the help of smart phones made available to local women’s cluster, tells them all that they need to know about accessing public schemes, which is their right.

“There are 12 clusters of women that are now keeping an eye on the progress of the creation of sanitation infrastructure besides conducting awareness activities.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP922 1110 words


India
Beauty Matters: Ready To Pay The Price?
Tripti Nath

Although we do not like to acknowledge it openly, fact is that Indians are obsessed with fair skin. Matrimonial columns in newspapers are dominated by suffocating expectations of “beautiful, fair and lovely” brides and celebrities endorse creams that promise to make men look fair and handsome. Students, professionals and housewives – nobody wants to be called a plain Jane. To look hip and confident, enough money and time is being spent today on massaging fairness creams to get that flawless complexion and lips are tinted with crimson, scarlet and bight pink shades to make heads turn. But how safe are the products that are being used so religiously to look good and feel great? When it comes to the $950 million retail beauty and cosmetic industry in India, unfortunately, the lack of enforcement of established safety standards is quite troubling.

“The major conditions I have seen [due to regular use of cosmetics] are contact dermatitis (an inflammation of the skin), irritant dermatitis and depigmentation arising from certain ingredients in cosmetics that may trigger allergy.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDN124R 1000 words


India
Valley Women Struggle To Hold On To Sanity
Baseera Rafiqi

Zahida Bano, 62, lives with her ailing husband and a house maid in a far off village in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. With her hands on her face she sits on the window sill for most part of the day after going through the daily chores. It was way back in 1993 that her eldest son Mohammad Asim, 27 at the time, left home and never came back. She believes her son will return and that is why she keeps up her vigil at the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. “Asim will come,” she remarks, her eyes welling. Doctors believe that Zahida is otherwise okay, it's just her grief that is making her sick. In strife torn Kashmir, where displacement, violence, gun fights have been a part of everyday life for decades now, there are thousands of women – mothers, sisters, wives – who are struggling to keep their sanity. Extreme pain and an overwhelming sense of loss have pushed many into the abyss of anxiety, severe depression and PTSD.

“We have been living in a continuous state of fear and that has lead to a rise in patients of depression, anxiety. No matter how fast we think we are moving towards peace and development, there is always a lurking fear of being killed or getting caught in a curfew.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP912 1090 words


India
This Work Is No Child's Play
Saadia Azim

Keshav, 13, lives in Siwal village, located at the periphery of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. His everyday routine revolves around football. But unlike many of his counterparts in the big towns, this teenager stitches them – to earn a small living. He proudly declares: ‘My brother and I help our mother and we stitch the best footballs in the area… I think stitching them is far tougher than scoring a goal.' Young Saira, who lives in the same village as Keshav, takes out time after school and household chores to bind books to add to her family's income. She gets bone tired by the end of the day but there is no way out of this. Keshav and Saira are among the hundreds of thousands of children who are going through childhood juggling multiple roles – they try to strike a balance between schooling and work, leaving little time to have fun and live carefree - the right of every child. When one talks of home-based workers, images of impoverished, exploited women come to mind. However, child labour adds a whole new dimension to this narrative, especially now that the newly amended Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act allows children of up to 14 years to work in their ‘family trade' after school.

“Many times my hands bleed because the needle pierces through my skin when I try to stitch hurriedly. But the faster I work the more money we earn.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP913f 1200 words
 
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