Friday, October 11, 2013

International Day of the Girl Child

That's Stevie Nicks in 2006 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a performance of "Beautiful Child."  Though remembered today as one of the many classic songs Stevie wrote and then recorded with Fleetwood Mac -- one of the many classics that couldn't be a single cause we all have to pretend Stevie's not the most talented songwriter in the band (and one of the most talented -- in the band or out -- period) --  this album classic (Tusk) has another history. 

Dropping back to the November 20, 2012 snapshot:

In November of 1979 at the UN, the International Year of the Child Secretariat Representative Dr. E. Aldaba-Lim presented Fleetwood Mac with a citation for their donation of the royalties from "Beautiful Child" (written by Stevie Nicks).  UNICEF continues today as do children in need and today is Universal Children's Day. 

As noted in yesterday's snapshot,  today is The International Day of the Girl Child.  UNICEF continues their work with children and, like the world around it, grows as part of the journey.    UNICEF explains:

The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on 11 October, a day designated by the United Nations for promoting the rights of girls, and addressing the unique challenges they face. The inaugural day in 2012 focused on the issue of ending child marriage. As the lead agency for the Day, UNICEF, in consultation with other United Nations agencies and civil society partners, selected Innovating for Girls’ Education as this year’s theme, in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward and building on the momentum created by last year’s event.

As the nature and scale of barriers facing girls becomes more complex, innovative strategies are needed to give girls an education that prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century. As the world evaluates the gaps that still remain in achieving global goals for gender equality in education and defines an agenda that moves beyond the Millennium Development Goals, it is critical that innovation brings about solutions for improving girls’ education that are not only more creative, but also more effective, efficient, sustainable and just.

Hear Katy Perry roar for girls’ education - webstory

What do we mean by innovation? On this site, we have gathered the most novel stories from our work in the field to showcase what is happening on the ground and inspire us all to innovate for girls’ education!

Katy Perry's own website is here.

In their most recent gender equality profile of Iraq, UNICEF notes:

Political representation.
Women occupy 82 out of 325 seats in the lower house of parliament following the 2010 elections (25 per cent of the seats). Women gained the right to vote and stand for election in 1980, and that same year the first woman was elected to parliament. Iraq has introduced legislated quotas to increase women’s representation in the lower house of parliament. The electoral laws that govern the provincial elections also include provisions to encourage women’s representation in provincial councils. Among the country’s 18 governors there are no women.
Representation in the legal system.
Women in Iraq have been active in the legal field since the 1920s. The first female judge was appointed in 1959. In 1976 women were admitted to the Judicial Institute in Bagdad. In 1984 Saddam Hussein stopped women from entering the Judicial Institute and the women that were serving as judges at the time, were retrained. Women could still work as lawyers and prosecutors. Since the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 women are again serving as judges, but they are few in number (as of 2006 there were 16 female judges in the whole of Iraq).
Civil society.
Women’s organisations in Iraq face security risks and have faced bureaucratic obstacles in, for example, establishing shelters for battered women. Yet women’s rights activists have been successful in blocking the implementation of the constitutional article which would allow personal status matters to be governed by the rules of each different religious group. NGOs are making efforts to increase women’s civic participation but the difficult security situation in Iraq and the lack of protection against violence limit women’s participation.

On political representation, two things.  First, as Iraqi MP Susan al-Saad pointed out earlier this week, the quota, in 2010, was supposed to be in addition to women who ran openly for seats in Parliament.  Instead, these women were later included in the quota thereby lowering women's representation.  Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections at the end of April.  al-Saad is saying this practice does not need to repeat.  It should also be noted that Nouri built his 2010 cabinet without a single woman in it -- this despite the vocal objections of women across Iraq.  Second,as noted in the September 27th snapshot,  "Al Mada reports feminists in the province are planning to form a collective to run for office with the goal of advancing women in all fields.  Dad Hasnawi tells Al Mada that the slate would be the first of its kind in the province, in Iraq and in the Arab world and that it would embrace women's issues."  Last May, UN Women noted:

To run as a political candidate in Iraq demands courage and determination – even more so for a woman.
Fourteen candidates, including one woman, were murdered in the run-up to local elections held in April – the first elections to be run by the Iraqis themselves without any international help since 2003.

If you read that article in full, please remember it was not 'provincial elections' as most would understand it.  It was 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces voting.  Nouri barred Anbar and Nineveh from voting (they would vote months later).  The KRG's three provinces voted September 20th.  Kirkuk has again not been allowed to vote.  With five more provinces voting since they published that article, UN Women really needs to update it to examine whether women gained seats, lost seats or held steady.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is disputed.  The central government out of Baghdad claims it as does the Kurdistan Regional Government.  If only there was some way to settle the dispute . . . Oh, wait, Iraqis created a way in the 2005 Constitution.  Article 140 calls for a census and a referendum in Kirkuk to determine whether it will be part of the KRG or part of the central government.  Nouri was installed by the Bully Boy Bush administration as prime minister in the spring of 2006.  (The Iraqis wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari to have a second term.)  The Constitution called for him to implement Article 140 by the end of 2007.  He refused.  In 2010, Nouri's State of Law came in second place in the parliamentary elections.  He refused to step down as prime minister creating an eight month political stalemate.  Since he didn't have the votes to win, the Barack Obama administration circumvented the Iraqi Constitution by brokering a contract known as The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri got a second term in exchange for agreeing (in writing) to certain conditions.  These included implementing Article 140.  Despite signing that contract in 2010, Nouri has refused to do so.  (Despite Barack giving his personal word that the contract was binding and had the full backing of the US government, the US government has since pretended The Erbil Agreement does not exist.)

Let's drop back to UNICEF's most recent gender profile of Iraq to note this:

Iraq has not achieved gender parity in primary and secondary school. Only 82 per cent of girls and 93 per cent of boys are enrolled in primary school, according to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) estimates from 2007. Girls are at even greater disadvantage in secondary school (where the gender parity index is 0.81 compared to 0.88 in primary school), with a net enrolment ratio of only 38 per cent compared to 48 per cent for boys, accor - ding to UIS estimates (also from 2007). The youth literacy rate is 85 per cent among men and 80 per cent among women (15-24 years).

Possibly the only place Iraqi girls and women don't face 'discrimination' is when violence is doled out.  Just yesterday, for example, the head of a 25-year-old woman was found discarded in trash among the street next to a law building in Kirkuk.  Violence knows no gender barriers.

Visit UNICEF to find out more about The International Day of the Girl Child.  And if you're late to the party, our focus here is Iraq.  UNICEF has information on all the countries and you can explore that at their website.

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