Empower a Girl: Change the World

A One Just World Forum at the University of Sydney

OJW Empower a girl image

October 11 marks the first ever International Day of the Girl Child. The day will promote girls’ rights, highlight gender inequalities and address the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. So why is it important to have a day to formally recognise girls?
For those living in developing countries life is toughest for girls. An estimated 100 million girls have gone missing because their parents prefer a boy. Girls are more likely to suffer malnutrition. 70,000 girls a day are forced into child marriages. Girls have a higher instance of HIV and AIDS. Selling of girls is rampant, with some being sold for less than goats and cows.

Why is this happening? Education plays a major part. Girls with higher levels of education marry later, have smaller families, survive childbirth at higher rates, experience reduced incidences of HIV/AIDS, have children more likely to survive to age five and earn more money. Girls need to be able to develop skills so that they can go into work, make smart decisions and help their families. Yet around the world 35 million girls who should be in school are not. So is this where we start in addressing the inequalities? What else can be done? Is it even right to focus aid efforts on girls rather than communities as a whole?

Hosted by Tracey Spicer, broadcaster and journalist, with panelists to include:

  • Penny Williams was appointed Australia's first Global Ambassador for Women and Girls on 13 September 2011. Within in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Australian Government, her position is responsible for high-level advocacy to promote Australian Government policies and activity regarding gender equality and the social, political and economic empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Elizabeth Cassity, lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. She has spent her academic career in the field of Comparative and International Education, and has lived and worked in a number of countries. Elizabeth was a teacher/project director with a women’s literacy project in northern Namibia, conducted PhD fieldwork in Fiji, and has recently examined bilateral education policy in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • Maddy Gould, a member of Youth Planning a Change Today (Youth PACT) for Plan Australia. Maddy is in year 9 at Berwick Secondary College and is the youngest member of Youth PACT, Plan in Australia's youth team. She is passionate about empowering girls because girls are of incredible value and should be considered and treated equally.
  • Karen Allen, is Deputy Representative at UNICEF in Pakistan. In this job, she coordinates emergency, recovery and development programmes for children in the areas of health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and protection. These programmes target the poorest children and families, with special emphasis on ending gender based discrimination against girls. Prior to coming to Pakistan in June 2008, Karen was UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Uganda, and Regional Programme Planning Chief for eastern and southern Africa.

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Sydney Ideas is delighted to be hosting another series of One Just World Forums at the University of Sydney in 2012.

One Just World is a national series of free, after-work speakers’ forums designed to involve the community in conversation and debate on key international development issues facing Australia, the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Past topics covered reflect the diversity of issues in this area: whether climate change, gender equality, international development, food and nutrition, human rights, or disability and development. All forums feature panel of experts that may include academics, economists, scientists, policy makers, and community workers. And you, the audience, will have an opportunity to put your questions to them.

One Just World a partnership between World Vision Australia, the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), AusAID and a University in each state.

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