|Integrating Girl Child Issues into Population Education - Volume 1 (PROAP - UNFPA, 1997, 44 p.)|
The girl child has emerged as an important priority interest group addressed in the Cairo ICPD Programme Plan of Action. According to the Report of the Cairo Meeting,
Since in all societies discrimination on the basis of sex often starts at the earliest stages of life, greater equality for the girl child is necessary first step in ensuring that women realize their full potential and become equal partners in development. In a number of countries, the practice of prenatal sex selection, higher rates of mortality among very young girls, and lower rates of school enrollment for girls as compared with boys, suggest that son preference is curtailing the access of girl children to food, education and health care. This is often compounded by the increasing use of technologies to determine foetal sex, resulting in abortion of female foetuses. Investments made in the girl childs health, nutrition and education, from infancy through adolescence are critical.
The UNFPA objectives in reaching the girl child with appropriate programmes and activities are:
1. To eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference, which results in harmful and unethical practices regarding female infanticide and prenatal sex selection;
2. To increase public awareness of the value of the girl child, and concurrently, to strengthen the girl childs self-image, self-esteem and status;
3. To improve the welfare of the girl child, especially in regard to health nutrition and education.
The actions called for by UNFPA to redress the discrimination of the girl-child include: i) promoting equal treatment of girls and boys with respect to nutrition, health care, education and social, economic and political activity, as well as equitable inheritance rights; ii) access by girls and women to secondary and higher levels of education as well as vocational education and technical training; iii) eliminations of sex stereotypes in all types of communication educational and media meaterials that undermine girls self-esteem; iv) eliminating gender bias in educational curricula; v) enforcing laws to ensure that marriage is entered only with free and full consent of the intending spouses and raising the minimum age at marriage; vi) promoting the adoption of policies that encourage womens full participation in the development of societies, not only for their role as child-bearers and caretakers; vii) elimination of sex or son preference; viii) prohibition of female genital mutilation, infanticide, trafficking in girl children, etc.
One of the most important vehicles for promoting the concerns of the girl child and the elimination of gender bias is through education. Since UNFPA is funding programmes of population education all over the world, this subject area which is taught in both school and in-school sectors, can serve as suitable and effective medium for integrating messages on girl child.
Considering the above-cited objectives of the Cairo Meeting and UNFPA, the Regional Clearing House on Population Education has embarked on repackaging of information and materials related to education of girl child with the hope of contributing towards the achievement of these objectives.
There are now a growing number of materials dealing with the issues of girl child. They need to be synthesized, processed, consolidated and repackaged to bring them to the attention of the population educators, policy-makers and administrators, curriculum developers, trainers, teachers, and students. With the assistance of Ms. Sunanda Krishnamurty, consultant and main author, and Ms. Carmelita L Villanueva, Adviser on Population Information from CST for East and South-East Asia, this repackaging effort resulted in two volumes.
The first volume focuses on the status of the girl child in terms of education, nutrition and health care, marriage and family life, harmful cultural practices, values and traditions, child labour, prostitution, sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS. It also suggests strategies to promote female education, examining first the barriers to girls education; then goes on to convince the readers of the benefits of educating girls.
Volume Two offers the more practical handbook which gives the guidelines or procedures on how to integrate girl child issues into population education, both in curriculum and teacher training, giving a matrix of entry points in population education into which girl child topics could be integrated or incorporated. Finally, the second volume also carries an array of actual lessons and teaching/learning materials compiled from various sources which offer the users ready-made instructional materials that can be immediately used in classroom teaching, instructional materials development or teacher training.
The objectives of the two volumes in Integrating Girl Child Issues into Population Education are:
1. To increase awareness of how population educators can contribute to the elimination of stereotyping and discrimination of the girl child and promote appreciation of the value of the girl child.
2. To develop skills or ways and means of integrating messages on girl child issues into population education programmes, both in the school and out-of-school sectors.
3. To obtain quick source of exemplary strategies and curriculum/training materials for introducing messages about girl child through the vehicle of population education.
4. To provide the educators with an over-all view of the literature that exist on the subject of girl child.
The two volumes were compiled based on a wealth of existing materials on the girl child issue already available. They came mainly from the UNESCO Regional Clearing House on Population Education collection as well as from the libraries of UNICEF, ILO, and CST, Bangkok. The actual lessons and teaching/learning materials were also derived from education materials produced under the womens programmes and HIV/AIDS of UNESCO and its population education programmes funded by UNFPA. A few others were obtained from other international organizations and countries in this region. Acknowledgement is due to the staff of the Clearing House for assisting the authors in literature searching, retrieving, photocopying and putting the bibliography in order.