UNESCO: Launch of World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education


To mark International Women’s Day, UNESCO and the UIS have jointly released the World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education, which includes over 120 maps, charts and tables featuring a wide range of sex-disaggregated indicators.

The vivid presentation of information and analysis calls attention to persistent gender disparities and the need for greater focus on girls’ education as a human right.

The atlas illustrates the educational pathways of girls and boys and the changes in gender disparities over time. It hones in on the gender impact of critical factors such as national wealth, geographic location, investment in education, and fields of study.

The data show that:
Although access to education remains a challenge in many countries, girls enrolled in primary school tend to outperform boys. Dropout rates are higher for boys than girls in 63% of countries with data.
Countries with high proportions of girls enrolled in secondary education have more women teaching primary education than men.
Women are the majority of tertiary students in two-thirds of countries with available data. However, men continue to dominate the highest levels of study, accounting for 56% of PhD graduates and 71% of researchers.

The atlas also provides a fresh perspective on the progress countries are making towards gender-related targets set by the international community under Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals.

The print edition of the atlas will be accompanied by an online data mapping tool that enables users to track trends over time, adapt maps and export data. This eAtlas will be regularly updated with the latest available data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Download full report here

Download the full report or obtain a printed copy

The feminist poets of Mumbra


Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN | Mar 4, 2012,

In a modest flat off a dusty lane in the Muslim-majority town of Mumbra, a group of young girls is sitting in a semi-circle. Before they entered the apartment, they were all covered with the black veil, the unofficial dress code of any conservative Muslim mohalla in the subcontinent. But now, faces kissed by the sunlight, they await their turn at something equally liberating: poetry.

The young poets, initiated into the art two years ago, are gearing up to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 with yet another poetry recitation session. Emotions-some raw, others mature beyond their tender years-flow as the girls’ words become banners of dissent. Their poems protest the many inequalities that women face-female foeticide, financial dependence on men, unrequited love and the curses of divorce and widowhood.

The group came into being after Iranian-American poet Roxy Azari conducted a two-month-long poetry workshop for the young women in 2010. Azari, then on a Watson Fellowship, toured seven countries to engage young Muslim women and train them to express themselves through poetry. Her first stop was the 27-year-old Mumbai-based advocacy group Awaz-e-Niswan.

“Three days a week, Roxy would visit Awaz-e-Niswan’s Rahnuma Library at Mumbra and discuss socio-political issues with us. Then she would ask us to pen our feelings,” recalls Saba Khan who coordinated the poetry workshop. Both Awaz-e-Niswan and Rehnuma Library basically counsel and educate women on their rights, and the poetry sessions held now are an adjunct of the same philosophy-a desire to be free from the oppression of men.

Azari, famous for her slam poetry performances, left after the workshop for other destinations and better things, but she definitely ignited the dormant poet in a dozen or so young women. Each member of the group penned several poems, which are now part of a collection appropriately and evocatively titled Bebaak Qalam (Frank Pen). Three of them-Neha Ansari, Rabia Siddiqui and Faiza Shaikh-collaborated on an imaginative poem titled Agar Main Mard Hoti (If I were A Man) which portrays the many things men take for granted. For instance: “Agar main mard hoti/Subah der tak soti/Raat ghar der se aati (If I were a man/I would sleep late into the morning/ Come home late at night). And the poem perhaps expresses a collective feeling when it declares: “If I were a man/I would change the attitude of all men).”

Siddiqui, who studies at SNDT Women’s College, Juhu, says that before she joined the workshop she never realised her poetic talent. “I would occasionally read Ghalib and Faiz, but the workshop emboldened me not just to write poems but even continue my education,” says Siddiqui, who adds that her brother did not want her to study beyond Std 12, but her husband is “quite supportive”. “I am restless if I don’t write for a few days. I feel good after I have penned a few lines,” she says.

Evidently, poetry-writing provides a catharsis to these girls who otherwise have limited avenues to vent their suppressed feelings. They may not take out morchas in the streets but their poems hold aloft banners of protest. Fauzia Qureishi, by far the most accomplished in this young, bubbly group, has many poems to her credit, but the one about zindan (prison) and azm (ambition) clearly shines through the collection. The long poem talks about almost everything that a girl from a conservative Indian Muslim family has to face-early marriage, the threat of triple talaq, the gruelling work at home and the restrictions put in her path. “It is not just my story alone, but my protest on behalf of all the women who are suppressed and oppressed in a male-dominated society,” says the bespectacled Qureishi, quoting a couplet: “Kab tak kisi ki milkiyat main maani jaaon/Ek mard ki pehchan se kyon jaani jaaon (For how long am I going to be considered a property/Why should I be identified with the identity of a man?).

Mumbra may seem like an unlikely centre for feminist poetry but these young women are taking it there.

Married Women in Maharashtra can keep maiden name need not take husbands’ surname


MUMBAI: Women in Maharashtra have another reason to celebrate as International Women’s Day approaches.

It is now perfectly legal for a woman to retain her maiden name after marriage. The Bombay high court recently amended a crucial rule under the Family Courts Act to prevent a woman from being compelled to file any marriage-related proceedings only in her husband’s surname, thus offering relief to many seeking a divorce. It will also help a married woman file proceedings in other courts under her maiden name, say legal experts.

The radical rule says that “a wife who has not changed her name after marriage, by publishing in the official gazette, may continue to use her maiden name”. The law is clear now: a woman is not obliged to take her husband’s name after marriage.

A woman can file proceedings either in her maiden name or another name she may have adopted as long as it is officially registered in the gazette. If she retains her maiden name, a woman cannot be forced by a court to write her name as her first name followed by her husband’s first name and his surname while making a marriage-related petition.

Flavia Agnes of the women’s rights activist group Majlis, whose efforts led to this change, sees the amendment as a “progressive new addition to the law for women”. Majlis’ efforts ensured that a woman can continue to use her maiden name and surname if she so desires after marriage for all official purposes. She is not bound to use her husband’s name and can initiate proceedings in any court using her maiden name. The ‘after divorce’ status, meanwhile, does not force a woman to revert to her maiden surname if she had been using her husband’s surname all through the marriage. She can continue with the ex-husband’s surname, unless her intention is to defraud him, as was held by the Supreme Court.

Unknown to even lawyers, the new law stands published in the state gazette since last November, after the Bombay high court amended a crucial rule under the Family Courts Act in September 2011.

The law has been hailed by women’s rights activists and lawyers. “A woman cannot be compelled while seeking divorce to adopt her married surname if she hadn’t been using it, just as she cannot be compelled to drop her married name and revert to maiden surname after divorce, if she had been,” said a lawyer.

“Prior to the amendment, the Bandra family court staff would not accept divorce or related applications from hundreds of women until they added the first name of their estranged husband as their middle name, and also his surname,” said Agnes. The court staff would compel the quarrelling couple to bear only one surname-the husband’s-in the court case to be filed.

A year ago, Majlis took up the cause with the Bombay high court because it supervises functioning of all lower courts. The issue, said Majlis, was that in Maharashtra, many communities practised the custom of a new wife changing even her first name after marriage and adopting her husband’s full name. But other communities from states across India do not usually follow this custom, though it’s common for women to adopt the husband’s surname.

Read TOI article here

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