More than two months ago, nearly 100 teens applied and 40 of them were admitted into the Women and the Economy Buddies Without Borders Online Forum. We believe that autonomy and freedom require currency and hard work. Considering social justice and economic impact, we wonder if the best return on investment for all humankind may actually be woman-owned businesses in under-served communities.
Throughout the forum, participants peel back issues around gender equality and brainstorm ideas to improve the ROI of their chosen women-owned businesses listed on KIVA. The students' inquiries of knowledge and their collaboration with forum mates were awarded points. Here are the Top Five teens with the highest points and their reasons why for speaking up.
From India - Akshita Agrawal, Shiv Nadar School in India
"Gender inequality is prevalent in my community. There are instances of gender-based violence, limited participation of women in decision-making, and limited options for expressing their identity, personality, maintaining their dignity in the name of religion, culture, and prevalent social norms. Evidently, gender inequality exists in terms of awareness of fundamental rights and entitlements, access to fundamental rights and social protection schemes, and access to safe working and public spaces. The socio-ecological approach highlights the cause and effect of prevalent social norms and beliefs on limited progress in women's social, economic, and political empowerment and limited realization of SDGs."
From Germany - Marlene Walter, Goetheschule Essen in Germany
Acknowledging that Gender Inequalities are not just far away but here in our own communities is crucial for international development when it comes to the fifth Sustainable Development Goal “Gender Equality”. Looking at many mothers in my environment it is striking that the majority of them still have to decide between motherhood and their profession. Especially in my community, we have a lack of child daycare. Among others, this forces many mothers to stay at home and take care of their children. This leads to a forced traditional family ideal and does not terminate when the children are grown up. Getting back into employment is hard for many women in my community. They complain about prejudices from employers who do not trust them to manage both- motherhood and work, or who think that the “gap in the resume” is too big. We have to provide more offers to support women and to give them the ability to live up to their full potential. Our society would profit- not only financially."
From USA and India - Ananya Mahesh, Chirec International School in India
"Gender equality is still extremely prevalent in my community. Some teachers in my school, especially sports coaches, believe girls to have lesser capability and consequently, our opportunities and opinions are neglected. In slums in my city, a majority of women drop out of government school during middle or high school because their families do not see its worth, and instead start working to help bring money home. As soon as they are old enough, they are married off and spend their entire life working as low-paying maids and being abused by illiterate husbands, all the while drowning in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Many lack access to clean water and food resources and sexual harassment cases are also high in my area."
From USA/Argentina/Colombia - Alexa Campos, Springmont Montessori School, USA
"I listen to BBC’s Outlook program every morning and frequently hear about how women lack rights and are abused in many countries. I’m very lucky to live in a country with equal rights, but even here when I grow up I will have to face drastic salary differences, unequal job opportunities, and potential violence. Even in my school, which is diverse and inclusive, I find gender bias. It may be subtle, but it is there. When we work in Outdoor Ed, for instance, the boys are made to do the heavy lifting, while the girls are left planting seeds and taking care of animals. Another example is the dress code that holds girls to a higher standard. At our school play, one of our male friends came with a no-sleeve shirt that had gaping holes down to the waist and showed all of his upper body. We told him to put something on before he got in trouble, but to our surprise, our teachers laughed and complimented his outfit. My girlfriend, on the other hand, was “dress coded” because she showed a slit of her stomach. Gender inequality, be it subtle or crude, is something we need to overcome!"
From India - Anaavi Sharma, Shiv Nadar School in India
"Gender Inequality is a persistent issue in India. Even after considerable economic, environmental and political growth in India, deep-rooted issues like gender discrimination continue to exist. Common examples of Gender Inequality in India include female foeticide, child marriage, forced labour, gender-based violence, inequality in employment and earning and even inequality in girls’ education. In rural areas, sex-selective abortion is a major issue. Lack of awareness amongst women puts them in an adverse situation. Societal Mindsets are the most prevalent cause of inequality. In India, men are considered the heads of the house. This is slowly changing due to urbanisation and other new ideas. Poverty causes gender inequality as females are economically and financially dependent on males due to the lack of access to education. Women who are unaware of their fundamental rights and disparities are in a disadvantaged position as they accept discriminatory practices and don’t speak up. In conclusion, Indian community faces the issue of Gender Inequality at a large scale and if women become more independent, they will be able to fight this problem down."
Everyone in the forum will vote for the candidate whom they believe should be the Best Representative of the cohort. The results will be announced on May 6. In addition, we want to acknowledge Davidoula Georgopoulou from Greece (Arsakeio High School of Ioannina) and Sophie Bremer from Germany (Goetheschule Essen) as the VERY close runners-up.
Please join us in congratulating the Top Five, and wishing them good luck in the upcoming election! The Summer Forum is now open for application. Teens are invited to figure out why there are water crises and how we can deal with extreme floods, droughts, contaminated water and beyond.