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Gender equality: Progress, but long way to go

Gender Equality StudyAs the world observes International Day of the Girl today, October 11, World Vision is reflecting on how to continue to address barriers that limit girls from achieving their potential. World Vision recently commissioned a gender equality study to examine the organization’s influence and contribution to improving gender equality outcomes. The research also explored factors that led to positive outcomes and barriers to addressing inequality in four project sites (2 Area Development Programs and 2 special projects) implemented in Bolivia, India, Kenya and Tanzania.

World Vision Australia engaged researchers from the Nossal Institute for Global Health of the University of Melbourne to conduct the study. The projects they assessed focused on empowering girls and women.

Overall, the research found that big strides had been achieved in the projects, and that World Vision had partially contributed to the positive outcomes. Some of the positive outcomes were:

– increased access to education for girls
– greater retention of girls in school
– reduction of incidence of female genital mutilation/cutting
– increasing participation by women and women’s groups in community planning and decision-making meetings
– increased opportunities for income generation for women in areas that have been exclusively for men
– reduction in violence committed between people in intimate relationships
– girls and boys now perceive different possibilities for their futures
– rising age of marriage for girls and boys

The research also highlighted areas where little or no change has happened. Domestic workloads continued to be higher for women and girls despite their increased involvement in economic activities (Kenya, India and Tanzania); women were often unable to make independent decisions about family size and birth spacing (Tanzania and Kenya); women didn’t take part in deciding on household expenditure (Tanzania); general exposure to sexual violence, such as rape and incest, continued to be high (India); and girls were less successful in completing secondary school (Bolivia, India and Tanzania).

“It was brave for World Vision to ask an open question for the researchers to explore whether their programs are having any impact on gender equality,” said Mia Urbano from the Nossal Institute for Global Health of the University of Melbourne. “It takes a strong organization to openly do this. It reflects their commitment to finding the answer towards improving their programs.”

The research highlights World Vision’s contribution to gender equality, as well as the progress still needed.

Read the Gender Equality Study: http://www.wvi.org/child-rights-and-equity/publication/gender-equality-study

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