The dilemma: how to get more girls in developing countries to go to school


by Zohra Moosa    
9:01 am - November 29th 2012

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It’s been 50 days since 15 year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for the rights of girls to go to school in Pakistan. The country has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world, after Nigeria – and two thirds of them are girls.

In fact, girls are less likely to be enrolled in primary school compared to boys in virtually every country in the developing world. (pdf)

While the international community has been actively trying to address this problem via the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it has failed to tackle one of the core reasons girls are out of school: violence.

Research by ActionAid and the Institute of Education in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania found that up to 86% of girls had reported some form of violence against them in the previous 12 months. This violence in turn was found to directly affect whether girls attended or completed school.

Just a few days after the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, announced a new pot of funds specifically focused on tracking what works in responding to violence against women and girls. The £25 million fund will operate over five years in ten countries in Africa and Asia and will have a priority emphasis on prevention – stopping violence in the first place.

This new investment is critical. Up to 70% of women face gender-based violence at some point in their lifetime. This violence affects women of all cultures and classes in all countries, and is one of the core reasons women are more likely to be living in poverty. It denies women choice and control over their lives and is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world.

And yet change is possible. A five year ‘Stop Violence Against Girls in School’ project by Action Aid running in Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique for example has seen consistent – and in some cases dramatic – improvements in girls’ enrolment in school. From 2008 to 2011, the percentage of girls enrolled went up by 20% in Ghana, 60.7% in Kenya and 59.5% in Mozambique. Dropout rates have likewise improved across the life of the project.

In Afghanistan, ActionAid trained women paralegals to provide legal and psychological advice to other women. With this training, they successfully brought 480 cases of violence through the justice system; only eight cases had ever been previously reported. And in Zanzibar, ActionAid set up four shelters, providing survivors of violence a safe place to stay where they can access legal support services. Previously, there were none.

The key to this work being successful is ensuring there is adequate investment in the necessary ingredients for change. As this Theory of Change (pdf) explains, there are four ingredients:

1. Empowering women and girls
2. Changing the social norms that condone violence against women and girls
3. Building political will and legal and government capacity to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls
4. Providing comprehensive support services to survivors of violence – including appropriate medical help

It is past time to acknowledge how violence is undermining progress on all of our development and social justice ambitions and yet is not included at all in our targets for change.

We need now to hear the Government confirm that it will fight for a dedicated target on how to eliminate violence against women and girls in the framework that comes after the Millenium Development Goals too.

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About the author
Zohra Moosa is women's rights adviser at ActionAid UK. She also blogs at The F-Word and is writing in her own capacity
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Reader comments


I think you’ll find that violence is not the root cause of girls not being educated. It is more likely to be an extreme interpretation of a religion which encourages violence against women and girls who want to be educated and lead independent lives.

@1 JC

“extreme interpretation of a religion” IE Conservative religion. Utter poison wherever it appears.

Doesn’t the headline highlight that there’s not that much concerned outsiders can do? It sounds a bit like those Lonely Planet tourist guides which urge you not to buy the disposable water bottles when you go to poor countries, as they end up as problem refuse.
We can’t do much more than tut tut about things we don’t like. I’m going to Egypt next week, and I don’t think there’s much I or anyone else can do to change any negative things about that country.
We tried wholescale intervention in Afghanistan, and that has been a spectacular failure costing thousands of lives.

I do wonder if always thinking ‘we can do something to improve this’ is not somewhat of a conceit.
It’s certainly a Western trait.

Let them know it’s Christmas.

While I support the goals of the author whole heartedly I find it rather extraordinary that not once in the article do you mention Islam, at least as interpreted in many of these countries, as even one of the problems that needs addressing.

Conservative private power is the problem. And has always been the problem. Religion is of course one of conservatives private power bases. Doesn’t really matter which flavour. Islam in it’s medieval form is a massive problem. But Christians are not much better. Even the modern church of England rejected woman last week. And the more conservative catholic and evangelical are dripping in misogyny.

Male head of family, male head of church/mosque/whatever. Male head of company. Even the old grammar system was heavily weighted against girls. Conservatives on Fox news are now complaining about female voters.

Why don’t conservatives just admit they hate females? That is why conservatives love deregulated power of money, and religion into the hands of private male institutions. But want state power to ban abortion, and contraception, and woman’s voting rights. All the power I enjoy today has been won through legislation since the enlightenment. And conservatives have fought tooth and nail every step of the way.

6. the a&e charge nurse

A report by the ‘World Economic Forum’ which measures 4 main outcomes (economic participation/opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival) found;

“Seventeen of the 20 countries at the bottom of the gender gap scale are Islamic – Lebanon (placed at 116), Qatar (117), Nigeria (118), Algeria (119), Jordan (120), Oman (122), Iran (123), Syria (124), Egypt (125), Turkey (126), Morocco (127), Benin (128), Saudi Arabia (129), Mali (131), Pakistan (132), Chad (133) and Yemen (134)”.

Harry Enfield sketch or religious wisdom?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RaSvr7AZgA

It makes me chuckle to think anybody can take these gender driven observations seriously – perhaps the first stage in promoting the lot of women in education is to free it’s provision from religious claptrap?

@Sally

The CofE decision was an odd one: it was the Laity that scuppered it, ie the body with the highest female representation (indeed the body with no gender bar).

“We need now to hear the Government confirm that it will fight for a dedicated target on eliminating violence against women and girls within the framework.”

In this country.

@JC the Theory of Change I mention discusses in some detail the need for social norm chage, ie the beliefs and attitudes that underly violence against women and girls.

@Chris agree there needs to be prioritization and investment in tackling violence against women and girls in this country too.

@5. Sally

What an utter load of tosh. The biggest equality issues for women have been long in the past and the last 30 years has seen massive developments, but these things do not change overnight. They take entire generations to change. So what is my message? keep doing what everyone is doing, because attitudes are changing.

You on the otherhand Sally are a raving lunatic, I’m sorry I know I shouldn’t feed the trolling comments, but I have to address this. You hate the conservatives, the libertarians (who are not social conservatives), males, the right, in fact you hate anyone that doesn’t conform perfectly with your ideas. Do you not see that you are precisely like the idea you hold in your head of those you hate? You probably describe yourself as a liberal, but you are no such thing. The illiberal, militant, and down right ignorant views you pedal on this site are ridiculous.

Because someone has a different view does not make them wrong. It does not warrant abuse. It does not justify blatant, ignorant hostility on every single comment you make.

You jump on the nearest bandwagon and scream. Yet you never seem to point out facts or make reasoned argument like the majority on this site. A fact like, one of the most male entrenched professions (law) had a 52% women qualification record last year, or that gender inequality in pay has fallen to its lowest level on record.

I, as someone who holds libertarian beliefs, welcomes this change. The world can no longer be run by only men, and despite it making the working environment more competitive I welcome the inclusion of women on precisly the same terms as men, and believe it will lead to great benefits. I happen to think women are fantastic, well except you Sally, but then that is hardly down to you being a woman.

Zohra refers to some real progress and this is to be welcomed and encouraged.

As for what we can do: well for one thing we can stop in the west the wishy-washy liberal whitewashing and idealisation of the same ‘vibrant’ religious tendencies that are also the main soil for cultural misogyny. Multiculturalists have played accomplices to religious conservatism so long as it comes in some approved cultural or ethnic shade. That has to stop and they need to be told where they can stuff their ‘racist’ card.

If you really want women – and other vulnerable groups – in Third World countries to have a better life, then fetishing certain ‘traditional’ religious cultures is actually badly counterproductive.

Lamia

“As for what we can do: well for one thing we can stop in the west the wishy-washy liberal whitewashing and idealisation of the same ‘vibrant’ religious tendencies that are also the main soil for cultural misogyny.”

I doubt the blockage is down to wish-washy liberals. One big hurdle preventing change is that many of the worst misogynist practices tend to be due to deeply embedded local traditions rather than to religion. In the news, a 14 y-o girl has been beheaded in Afghanistan for turning down an engagement proposal. A week or so back there was a gut-wrenching report in the Guardian about female genital mutilation in Indonesia where the practice has deep traditional roots. Mothers there believe that their daughters need that for their own well-being.

Local legislation is one possibility for bringing about change – although long-standing laws in India have done little to prevent pressures there, especially in rural areas, to provide dowries for girls – but otherwise exposure to world media and the internet is probably the best hope.

@10

You probably describe yourself as a liberal

I wouldn’t put money on that guess if I were you.

@ Bob B,

I agree with you, but I was referring to Damon’s question of what we can do in the west. Obviously it’s limited, but at the very least, parts of the western media, politicians and ‘activists’ can stop peddling reactionary-sympathetic propaganda under the guise of ‘anti-imperialism’.

“A week or so back there was a gut-wrenching report in the Guardian about female genital mutilation in Indonesia”

Quite. And yet the Guardian has repeatedly given a platform to Islamists advocating Sharia Law and the BBC hosted a ‘respectful’ ‘debate’ on whether gay people should be executed. They are so afraid of being tarred as ‘racist’ that they have frequently treated the most foul and violent religious and cultural reactionaries as worthy of respect. And so under the ‘liberal’ bus, time and again, go the same vulnerable groups and minorities.

Lamia

My understanding of Sharia law isn’t very deep but I don’t think it prescribes female genital mutilation, which seems to depend on local traditional customs and practices in some places.

The prescription of stoning for adultery and chastity offences coincides with what is set out in Deuteronmy chp.22 in the Old Testament of the Bible, a much older source and part of the Torah. I’m not reading the same shrill complaints about that. I wonder why?

“My understanding of Sharia law isn’t very deep but I don’t think it prescribes female genital mutilation,”

It does prescribe physical punishments, including death.

“The prescription of stoning for adultery and chastity offences coincides with what is set out in Deuteronmy chp.22 in the Old Testament of the Bible, a much older source and part of the Torah. I’m not reading the same shrill complaints about that. I wonder why?”

Probably because people aren’t executed or physically punished for adultery in any Jewish-culture countries (there is only one, and it’s the most socially liberal in the Middle East) unlike in a number of Muslim countries. Ever thought of that?

Why would you expect complaints, shrill or otherwise about a phenomenon that is in reality non-existent?

10 Priceless. To be told you talk tosh from someone who calls themselves a libertarian is hysterical.

Why don’t you read the title of the post? It is about developing countries. And they face the same problems that woman have faced here for centuries. Namely, Private conservative power. Religion, voting, education, and business. They will have to drag the same misogynist conservative forces kicking and screaming as woman had to do here.

I do not say that things have not improved for woman here. But I point out it has been a huge struggle, much of it having to be backed by legislation. Again proving the idiocy of the libertarian cause. If libertarian fools like you had run the country for the last 200 years, I would not be able to vote. I would not be able to work, and would be the property of my husband the moment I got married.

So I welcome your enthusiasm for woman advancing themselves. Thankfully there were enough non conservative libertarian men to help.

18. So Much for Subtlety

Research by ActionAid and the Institute of Education in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania found that up to 86% of girls had reported some form of violence against them in the previous 12 months.

The quality of this research can be seen by the fact that it included corporal punishment in their category of violence. Yet again we see activists including routine actions in a survey so that they can inflate their claims about the more serious actions.

This violence in turn was found to directly affect whether girls attended or completed school.

Not according to that link it didn’t.

The £25 million fund will operate over five years in ten countries in Africa and Asia and will have a priority emphasis on prevention – stopping violence in the first place.

So basically Jobs For The Girls in the Aid industry? It will do nothing useful. It will change nothing. But it will provide some wealthy First World people with a nice jolly for a couple of years.

This new investment is critical. Up to 70% of women face gender-based violence at some point in their lifetime.

Again, the terms are so meaningless that the figure is not merely useless, it is counterproductive.

This violence affects women of all cultures and classes in all countries, and is one of the core reasons women are more likely to be living in poverty.

Although it is a hell of lot more likely to affect some women in some cultures and from some classes. But you can’t say so.

And yet change is possible. A five year ‘Stop Violence Against Girls in School’ project by Action Aid running in Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique for example has seen consistent – and in some cases dramatic – improvements in girls’ enrolment in school. From 2008 to 2011, the percentage of girls enrolled went up by 20% in Ghana, 60.7% in Kenya and 59.5% in Mozambique. Dropout rates have likewise improved across the life of the project.

Correlation is not causation. There is no reason to think such figures changed because of this intervention. All three countries are seeing robust economic growth. That is more likely to be the cause.

In Afghanistan, ActionAid trained women paralegals to provide legal and psychological advice to other women. With this training, they successfully brought 480 cases of violence through the justice system; only eight cases had ever been previously reported.

Through the justice system? Did they win?

The key to this work being successful is ensuring there is adequate investment in the necessary ingredients for change.

So we should pay for Upper Middle Class social workers to lecture Third World men on how to treat their women? Why?

2. Changing the social norms that condone violence against women and girls

Actually most societies do not condone violence against women although I am pretty sure more will come around to doing so. After all, it would take a pretty bright person to figure out how women are tough enough to cope with combat in the Armed Forces, but not tough enough to deal with a little domestic violence on their own. The danger for women is that they will be treated more like men – look at the Emergency Wards of any hospital. But they will anyway.

We need now to hear the Government confirm that it will fight for a dedicated target on how to eliminate violence against women and girls in the framework that comes after the Millenium Development Goals too.

Hubris. Not just a word, but now government policy. The only realistic way to have any chance to do this is by re-colonisation. And that ain’t going to happen.

Lamia: “Why would you expect complaints, shrill or otherwise about a phenomenon that is in reality non-existent?”

Few Islamic countries have laws with sanctions, or apply sanctions, against adultery or chastity violations so we are mainly concerned with textual comparisons between the prescriptions of Sharia and those of the Old Testament.

Both seem pretty abysmal to me but then I don’t go along with the theological stuff and reject any notion that a religion is needed as a source of authority for a social moral code. IMO David Hume set out the secular alternative clearly in 1748:

“All moral duties may be divided into two kinds. The first are those to which men are impelled by a natural instinct … which operates on them, independent of all ideas of obligation, and of all views either to public or private utility. Of this nature are love of children, gratitude to benefactors, pity to the unfortunate. … The second kind of moral duties are such as are not supported by any original instinct of man but are performed entirely from a sense of obligation, when we consider the necessities of human society, and the impossibility of supporting it, if these duties were neglected. …. We shall only observe, before we conclude, that though an appeal to general opinion may justly, in the speculative sciences of metaphysics, natural philosophy, or astronomy, be deemed unfair and inconclusive, yet in all questions with regard to morals, as well as criticism, there is really no other standard, by which any controversy can ever be decided.”
http://www.constitution.org/dh/origcont.htm

Research at the Infant Cognition Centre at Yale University, reported a couple of years ago, showed that a high percentage of babies can and do make moral judgements, which tends to confirm Hume’s suggestion that one source of our sense of “moral duties” is “natural instinct”, not religion or even nurture. This isn’t surprising after evolutionary pressures during hundreds of thousands of years of human development in social contexts. Btw David Hume wasn’t one of those dangerous radicals – he regarded himself as a Tory.

@18. So Much for Subtlety

The definition of violence against women and girls used in ActionAid’s work comes for the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993); no reason corporal punishment shouldn’t be included therefore, and explains the 70% stat too.

The research ActionAid is doing on violence against girls in schools is with the University of London, Institute of Education, as I said. So there might be activists involved, but also academics (not mutually exclusive, obvs). The research will be published in full shortly – so you can check shortly what is correlation vs causation, etc. National growth does not explain the full picture. In meantime, this page has links to baselines, methodology, etc.

‘not tough enough to deal with a little domestic violence on their own’ – suggests you don’t think violence against women and girls is that big a deal really (or understand the impact of domestic violence or how it works actually). And this type of belief and attitude is exactly why a generalization like this is a nice idea, but doesn’t bare out in practice ‘Actually most societies do not condone violence against women’.

Even if I don’t see education or poverty alleviation as human rights, violent oppression of individuals and social groups is definitely a human rights issue for me. They are linked, and the Millennium Development Goals may get the buy-in for some states to participate in supporting these human rights goals, but it would be just as important a human rights issue without linking it to economic development.

This is practical human rights, undertaken with several clearly stated principles. And the “Theory of Change” document linked to in the post shows how complex and messy such work is. There are always more principles and ways of interpreting them.

Starting with the principle that context is all important, campaigners cannot then have a detailed blueprint of how to proceed in particular places. It all depends on the perceptions and divisions among women and men in the particular context. Perhaps religious leaders are the problem perhaps part of the solution, perhaps both. What people can safely even express puts a limit on understanding which gets filled in with some mixture of empathy and projection. It may be that where human rights workers see a typical backlash they are actually seeing a genuine statement from communities that the solution offered is not going to help. Or it may just be aggressive power relations reasserting themselves under a cloak of victimhood, or a bit of both which is hard to disentangle.

The reality is that one set of power differences are being used against another and neither denying it or feeling guilty about it is enough to ensure any party doesn’t misuse its power. That is the core dilemma: using power over others without dominating or oppressing them.

I don’t think it is easy to make a handbook on this kind of emotional intelligence. Most of us probably overestimate how well we can tell who is being insincere when about what and why and who is being reticent about what and why and how to help them open up, etc. And it is a thankless task most of the time, draining and filled with opportunities for emotional blackmail. To show women’s rights can be improved cross-culturally as both a means and an end is quite an achievement. Learning how it was done in terms of principles only goes so far in spreading this knowledge, though. And in a few years time there is likely to be academic research showing unintended negative consequences too. How to take the right level of responsibility for this is something we don’t think about enough, but is also crucial to avoid slipping into a colonial mentality.

An outsider is necessary to change entrenched dynamics in the short term. And one committed to changing them towards nonviolence and respectful relations seems to be the opposite of promoting colonial values, it is treating others as I would wish to be treated by outsiders. The mixture of humility, perceptiveness and self-confidence required to genuinely do this kind of work seems to be almost paradoxical and I have huge respect for the people who are undertaking it.

22. Churm Rincewind

@4 Falco – “I find it rather extraordinary that not once in the article do you mention Islam, at least as interpreted in many of these countries, as even one of the problems that needs addressing.”

I’m wary of any approach that sees Islam as “a problem that needs addressing”. Just for the record, the religious composition of the countries mentioned in the OP is:

Predominantly Muslim: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Zanzibar.

Predominantly Christian: Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique

Roughly equal Christian/Muslim: Nigeria, Tanzania.

Which would seem to indicate that violence against women is a cultural not a religious problem.

The UNESCO report that the post links to says that all regions except the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa have effectively reached gender parity in primary education; there are 60 countries where girls are disadvantaged and 8 where boys are disadvantaged; the rest have reached parity (within the margin of error); and not all of the countries where girls are disadvantaged are developing countries.

So ‘virtually every’ is rather misleading; ‘more than half’ would be better.

The commenters who think this is only about religion should also note that Muslim countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia have gender parity.

None of this is to deny that there is a problem (or that religion may have something to do with it within some countries), but overstating the problem or suggesting it is universal only makes people think it is hopeless or that it is the result of something universally wrong with developing countries (which is then usually pinpointed as corruption, religion, cultural backwardness, and so on). When in fact there are plenty of examples showing that it can be fixed.

24. the a&e charge nurse

[23] well lets take the first one, Bangladesh – UNICEF says, ‘Tremendous efforts in the past decade have been successful in getting more girls into school, resulting in gender parity in enrolments in primary and lower secondary schools, but the % of girls begins to decline in the later secondary years. When the girl dropouts are added to the number of girls who have never enrolled, there are still approximately 1.5 million primary school age girls out of school. The poor quality of education results in low achievement levels for girls and boys, and limited options for girls and women within the greater society exacerbate the problems of inadequate schooling for girls’.

If you are going to take the OP to task for misleading language please do not repeat the same mistake yourself by implying that ‘parity’ suggests all is well in Bangladesh – it’s not, it seems things are less worse to begin with, but UNICEF still highlights poor quality of education, low achievement, and limited options for girls.

The obvious question is what are the cultural drivers in the wider society that keep women from reaching their full potential?
http://iheartthreadbared.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/burqa-ban.jpg

25. Just Visiting

Churm

> Which would seem to indicate that violence against women is a cultural not a religious problem.

Depends, have you looked for majority-Islam countries where the level of violence against women is low?

Otherwise, using just those few countries, you’ve only shown that such violence can happen in non-Islamic countries too – not the same as your claim.

26. So Much for Subtlety

20. zohra

The definition of violence against women and girls used in ActionAid’s work comes for the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993); no reason corporal punishment shouldn’t be included therefore, and explains the 70% stat too.

That the UN also uses such dishonest means of data collection does not surprise me. However it does mean we need to take everything they say with a pinch of salt. Because they are manipulating their definitions in order to manipulate the public.

‘not tough enough to deal with a little domestic violence on their own’ – suggests you don’t think violence against women and girls is that big a deal really (or understand the impact of domestic violence or how it works actually).

Actually I would have thought that suggests the exact opposite – that I am a more traditional sexist who thinks women are weak, delicate flowers, who need the protection of men in order to survive in a harsh world. My point is that you cannot reject that view and insist that women are tough enough to serve in combat for instance, or in the front lines of the police force while at the same time insisting as soon as they get home and take their uniforms off, they once again become shrinking violets. Any ideological claim, in the end, needs to be consistent. I am happy enough to go along with either. Which is it? Are women are tough as men or are they unique weak and need protection?

And this type of belief and attitude is exactly why a generalization like this is a nice idea, but doesn’t bare out in practice ‘Actually most societies do not condone violence against women’.

Except it does. Almost no society I know of fails to condemn domestic violence.

@ Churm Rincewind

“Just for the record, the religious composition of the countries mentioned in the OP is:

Predominantly Muslim: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Zanzibar.

Predominantly Christian: Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique

Roughly equal Christian/Muslim: Nigeria, Tanzania.

Which would seem to indicate that violence against women is a cultural not a religious problem.”

Fundamentalist religion – Muslim and Christian – play a massively influential role in the cultures of all of those countries. It’s fundamental to them and their legal codes. It is what those women-beaters, blasphemy-accusers and gay-hangers invariably refer to as their authority-source for their behaviour.

It is very convenient the way that when it suits, criticism of a religion is treated as criticism of someone’s culture, and even ethnicity or race, and yet in other instances the same people who advance the former argument move the goalposts and assure us that ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ are quite separate things. It’s rubbish, and it’s about time supposed liberals stopped parroting it.

@24 The gender disparity actually widens (further in favour of girls) at secondary level (also according to UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/bangladesh/MICS-PP-09-v10.pdf).

You’re quite right that women are disadvantaged in other ways in Bangladesh. I did not say or even imply ‘all is well’ but was responding to specific claims.

You seem to have linked to a photo of women wearing burqas as a proud display of your ignorance.

29. the a&e charge nurse

[28] yes, fancy mentioning the burqa – it has only taken until 2010 for the high court in Bangladesh to belatedly rule that women should not be forced into wearing it.

Now why on earth should such a ruling be necessary unless up until recently large swathes of the female population had been intimidated into wearing it by one means or another?
Mind you, aunty reckons “repeated interventions by the court show that these orders are likely to be ignored by most people living outside the capital Dhaka”.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11471184

It must be very confusing for today’s Bangladeshi children being brought up in society where slightly fewer women are hidden from view as they have been for centuries before.

@17. Sally

You know Sally I don’t think you actually know what a libertarian is, especially because you say they have been in power for the last 200 years. The last 80 years certainly has seen a massive increase in the big state conservatism that intrenches political and business power. That isn’t libertarianism.

Your arguments are also without standing considering it was in fact the conservative government of the UK that gave women the vote in this country in 1928.

You also erroneously label conservatism the wrong for “private conservative power”, what ever you mean by that. Considering more power has been wielded out of No. 10 by destructive Labour governments than any private power could I am not really sure what you are on about, and considering that you response to all issues is “right, conservative, power, misogynist, abuse, etc” I seriously question your ability to see issues clearly.

Religion has always been a part of human beings lives. It is neither, right nor left. Take it or leave it. As for foreign countries, who are we to impose our will on others. They should be allowed to deal with their countries as they please, not be meddled with by imperialist Europeans and Americans. Again if women in these countries want to vote then that change must come from within the country itself. Not from us. Just look at the backlash faced by the West over the Arab spring. Praised by one, effigies burnt at the stake by another. You seem to hold the view that by impressing your ‘liberal’ views you are somehow saving other countries from themselves. You think it will change the way people have behaved for thousands of years in their own cultures. Its not liberal, its oppressive. It is saying to these people that their culture should be changed according to you. Its naive, authoritarian, and arrogant.

If the people of foreign countries want change, they will change. The will of people has always eventually won, but by perpetuating the idea that we can impose our ideas on these countries is appauling. Consider the little known history behind the native Americans. When European settlers went to Canada they found uneducated (by their standards) people who died of the simplist of diseases. What was their solution? Well they said, we should educate these poor folk, we should provide them with modern medicine so they don’t have to die, and we should provide them with currency to trade with. Result? The native people could add 3 and 5, but couldn’t build a shelter anymore, or skin a whale. They were cured of fever and pneumonia, but were obliterated by small pox. They received currency, which they melted down to make fish hooks out of. The result was the obliteration of an entire civilisation. All the culture, all the art, all the heritage was gone. Native Indians now sit on reserves and drink the white mans liquor that has killed most of them. Most of this was done with the best of intentions for the natives, but little consideration to the fact that it is not for one culture to tell another how to behave.

So please feel free to rant, I am sure you will, but this really is my last message addressing what you have to say, I shall return to my previous policy of ignoring your troll-ite rants, and having, what has proved to be, quite interesting discussions with the other contributors to this blog. Even if I do disagree with a fair few of them.

31. Churm Rincewind

@25 Just Visiting: You’re right, I didn’t consider any examples other than those cited in the original OP, simply because that’s what I was responding to. I could, if you wish, make an argument about the relationship between culture, religion, and violence against women but it would be rather lengthy… Similarly:

@27 Lamia: I don’t for a moment deny the close relationship between culture and religion, and the way in which religion often serves as as justification for various cultural observances. In my opinion, however, cultural practices come first and religion justification comes later. Again I’m happy to argue the point, but my original observations were restricted to the matters addressed in the OP.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. zohra moosa

    On yesterday's @DFID_UK announcement MT @libcon: how to get more girls in developing countries to school http://t.co/zddNYImZ @Actionaiduk

  2. zohra moosa

    On yest'days @DFID_UK announcement MT @libcon: how to get more girls in developing countries to school http://t.co/zddNYImZ @ActionAidUKNews

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in developing countries to… http://t.co/UMXHSvgJ

  4. Jason Brickley

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in developing countries to go to school http://t.co/w9kR8LZt

  5. jane_moyo

    PLS RT: @zohramoosa blogs for Liberal Conspiracy on @DFID_UK fund tackling violence against women &girls http://t.co/Qzg2F25U

  6. jane_moyo

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in poor countries to go to school | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p2kGRBiJ via @libcon

  7. Leon Green

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in poor countries to go to school | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p2kGRBiJ via @libcon

  8. Simon Wright

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in poor countries to go to school | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p2kGRBiJ via @libcon

  9. Rita Wallace

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in poor countries to go to school | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p2kGRBiJ via @libcon

  10. kate redman

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in poor countries to go to school | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p2kGRBiJ via @libcon

  11. lesliesinoway

    On yest'days @DFID_UK announcement MT @libcon: how to get more girls in developing countries to school http://t.co/zddNYImZ @ActionAidUKNews

  12. ActionAid media team

    The dilemma for aid agencies: how to get more girls in poor countries to go to school | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p2kGRBiJ via @libcon





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