8 March is the centenary of International Women’s Day. This year, we mark the occasion with a series of blog posts about initiatives to strengthen gender equality worldwide. In this post, Andreas Schleicher of the OECD’s Education Directorate looks at performance in school and later.
For most of the 20th century, educators and policy makers despaired over girls’ underachievement in school and sought ways to overcome the social and cultural impediments to girls’ equal access to education.
Results from the OECD’s most recent PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey, which directly involved more than half a million 15-year-olds (as proxy for some 28 million students) in 74 countries and economies (representing 90% of the world economy), show how many of those impediments have been toppled. (more…)
HIV/AIDS is now the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) worldwide. That’s the stark message coming from UNAIDS as it launches the Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV.
Violence against women and girls is the key driver of the epidemic. The risk of HIV among women who have experienced violence, or fear they might experience it, may be up to three times higher than among those who have not. These women are less likely to have safe sex, go for HIV testing, share their HIV status and get treatment.
Their inferior social status puts women and girls at risk too.
The infection rate among young women (15-24 years) is three times higher than that of young men in some countries where men are encouraged to have more than one sexual partner and it is common for older men to have sexual relations with much younger women.
When they do get infected, women are likely to face barriers in accessing HIV prevention, treatment and care services because benefiting from services often requires time, money and the possibility to travel that men are not prepared to grant.
Women and girls can find themselves in a double bind. They have to stay at home to look after the family, including HIV/AIDS victims, thereby limiting their chances of earning money and increasing their autonomy.
The death of a partner, whatever the cause, means that many women lose everything and have to adopt what UNAIDS euphemistically calls “survival strategies that increase their chances of contracting and spreading HIV”.
The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, is more direct: “Driven by poverty and the desire for a better life, many women and girls find themselves using sex as a commodity in exchange for goods, services, money, accommodation, or other basic necessities.”
Lack of education is also responsible.
The cheapest way to inform people about HIV prevention is through written material such as posters and leaflets. Illiterate women can’t take advantage of this information, which is one reason why they are four times more likely to believe there is no way to prevent HIV infection.
Women and health : today’s evidence tomorrow’s agenda a new WHO report reviewing evidence on the health issues that particularly affect girls and women throughout their life
The Finnish government analysed HIV/AIDS related strategies and key interventions of 25 development partners funding the HIV/AIDS related activities
OECD statistics on aid to HIV/AIDS control in official development assistance programmes
Wikigender was initiated by the OECD Development Centre to improve knowledge on gender equality-related issues around the world and facilitate information exchange