The aim of this activity is to develop awareness of human rights and issues of inequality that affect women.
Begin by telling the girls that over the past 50 years significant progress has been achieved in securing political rights for women — the right to vote and to be elected. Today, there are only a few countries where women cannot vote or run for public office. It is widely believed that increasing the number of women in decision-making positions will result in positive changes for women and society. However, even though women can run for office in most countries, their presence in government is still very low. Around the world, only 32 percent of all national parliamentarians are female.
Choose a few of the following facts and ask them to consider them:
- Every year, an estimated 15 million girls under 18 are married worldwide, with little or no say in the matter. (Source: Girls not Brides)
- On average, 30 percent of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner. (World Health Organisation)
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) affects more than 200 million girls and women alive today in 30 countries. It is recognized internationally as a human rights violation. (World Health Organisation)
- Until recently, women in Saudi Arabia weren’t allowed to drive and are still discouraged from working in jobs that would put them in contact with men. The unemployment rate for women is 33 percent for women, but only 7 percent for men.
- By 2020, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs in the U.S. and, at the current rate of students graduating with degrees in computer science, men will outnumber women 4:1.
Encourage the group to discuss their reactions to these facts. Are they surprised? Do they think it is because women have chosen themselves, to be unequally represented in these positions, or have they been pressured by society to avoid such roles? Do they think women are able, in modern society, to have equal access to these positions mentioned above or do men maintain a dominant force?
In 2013 the United Nations held a Conference on the ‘Status of Women’. (http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw) Ask the girls to imagine that another event will be held where government representatives from each country discuss ways of improving the lives of women all over the world. In small groups they should make a list of ten rights that they feel all women should have.
Flipchart paper, markers.