Caring for Adolescent Girls of the World: Education as an Effective Tool to Combat Social Injustice Jjenna Hupp Andrews http://www.slideshare.net/jjenna/caring-for-adolecent-girls-of-the-world-education-as-an-effective-tool-to-combat-social-injustice
Parents must bring up their girls as an asset, not a liability. They must give her equal rights, opportunities, and privileges as the male child – Girl, age 17, India Girls Count: A Global Investment & Action Agenda, Plan 2007 Center For Global Development, 2008
What is needed is a shift in focus from a Eurocentric, objectifying system, to a more feminine, “caring” system to really make any difference in social and economic injustice in poor, developing countries of the world, specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa. The specific focus of this paper is how the recognition of adolescent girls and their needs and the connections formed with those girls through a caring education can affect their community, and by extension, their society as a whole. Thesis
Center for Global Development February 2009 report (UNESCO)(Bermingham 1). 75 million young, school-aged children are not in school. 60 million girls of all ages that are denied an education hundreds of millions of adults world-wide that do not have the basic literacy skills they need to successfully function in the world today
Caring for Adolescent Girls In the developing world, the population in the most trouble is that of adolescent girls (Girls Count: A Global Investment & Action Agenda. Center For Global Development, 2008). less educated, less healthy, and less free than their male peers. They face systematic disadvantages over a wide range of welfare indicators. Because of deprivation and discriminatory cultural norms, many poor girls are forced to marry at very young ages. They are extraordinarily vulnerable to HIV, sexual violence and physical exploitation” They face extreme gender bias, often due to religious beliefs and cultural traditions.
Annette Baier: “a felt concern for the good of others and the community with them” (48). Joan Tronto: There must be embedded in the concept of care an ongoing commitment to action in relation to needs and a responsibility to act to fulfill those needs (102). Carol Gilligan: “grounded in the assumption that self and other are interdependent, an assumption reflected in a view of action as responsive and, therefore as arising in relationship…” (36). Daniel Engster: Care ethics provide a shift in focus by using the particular needs of the individual as a starting point for direct action (114). The Ethics of Care
A shift in the focus of attention “from concerns about justice to concerns about care changes the definition of what constitutes a moral problem and leads to the same situation being seen in different ways” (Gilligan 32). This is a very different perspective from a justice perspective where the impersonal, objective standards of “equality or equal respect (the Categorical Imperative, the Golden Rule)” are the focus (Gilligan 34-35). Perspectives
A different focus actually changes the nature of how one approaches the problem itself. Joan Tronto: “From the perspective of caring, what is important is not arriving at the fair decision, understood as how the abstract individual in this situation would want to be treated, but at meeting the needs of particular others or preserving the relationships of care that exist…moral theory becomes much more closely connected to the concrete needs of others” (Tronto 105). This is a shift from abstract ideals to a concrete context. It is then from this concrete context of the needs of individuals that action can take place. Shift in focus
This approach of justice as care focuses on making real connections with the other, and it is through these real relationships that injustices can be effectively addressed. Nona Lyons: “only individuals who view themselves as connected to others, rather than as separate and objective, are able to use both an ethic of care and claims about justice to resolve real-life moral dilemmas” (Tronto 109). Focus on Real Connections
Adolescent Girls In many of the poorest and least developed countries are: more likely to bear the heaviest burden of household chores be sexually assaulted get pregnant or contract HIV die as a result of an abortion or in childbirth to be married off before the age of 20 drop out of primary school and/or never complete secondary school
The answer comes first in the act of recognizing these girls as valued individuals [S]o a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves. Nonrecognition or misrecognition can inflict harm, can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false, distorted and reduced mode of being (“The Politics of Recognition” Charles Taylor 25). At one of the most influential times in their lives (age 10-20), where young girls are physically changing into women and looking to those closest to them for guidance through this transition, and trying to understand their place in their society, they are being told they are only worth very little. An effective vehicle for this positive recognition is an educational system that is founded on meeting the specific needs of the individual girls and developing their capabilities as individuals that are valued members of the community. Then caring for these girls in such a way that personal connections and relationships can be formed. How does the ethics of care fit into this dire picture?
Benefits of Primary Education in Developing Countries According to the Center for Global Development: Girls in developing countries who complete just one extra year of primary education, earn employment wages as an adult are 10-20 percent higher (the increase is less for boys, 5-15 percent). Girls who complete secondary school generally receive 18-25 percent higher wages than girls who just have a primary education (Livine, Lloyd and Greene 16). Girls who complete a minimum of primary education are: less likely to have sex at an early age they marry at later age they have fewer children they have a higher child survival rate and the children are healthier they have a lower HIV infection rate they are more involved in civic life and governance (Livine, Lloyd and Greene 17-20).
In cultures such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the individual is intimately linked to the community, the top-down approach to education will not work. The type of education that is needed is one in which connections and relationships are stressed. The educator must understand the needs and issues that can be powerful barriers to the girl’s education. For Example: needs can be as simple as providing girls with a private restroom where they can feel safe dealing with the physical changes of puberty they are experiencing (like menstruation). Caring Approach to Education
In order to create an educational system in which these girls can flourish one must understand the type of cultures in which these girls live. social and religious traditions and beliefs must be recognized and respected. tailoring the education to the community it functions within as well as being sensitive to their beliefs and customs ethics of care approach to education would stress sensitivity to the culture as an integral part of recognizing these girls and forming connections with them. Caring Approach to Education
A benefit of integrating care ethics into the educational approach in African countries is that care ethics are actually more in line with their cultural beliefs than more traditional western thought. Sandra Harding details several similarities between what in the West is called feminine moralities (like caring) and traditional African moralities. She draws several parallels between what is termed a feminine world view and an African world view (“The Curious Coincidence of Feminine and African Moralities: Challenges for Feminist Theory” 299). “Man-to-Object” (West): One’s social position is under one’s own control. If one sets goals and works hard, one can achieve anything, no matter what one’s background. Poverty can be overcome through hard work. “Man-to-Person” (African): One is an integral part of the social group. The individual develops their sense of identity/self though their relationship with the community. Care Ethics & Cultural Beliefs
Center for Global Development (Girls Count) have shown is that this (caring) approach to education does not stop with the individual girl. These girls take what they learn in school back to their families and communities. “[T]he changing agency of women is one of the major mediators of economic and social change” (Livine, Lloyd and Greene 18-19). A girl with an education is more likely to participate in civic life. “A thriving civil society comes not only from increased political and social awareness but also from average citizens participating in all aspects of public life – a phenomenon fostered by educating girls and assuring their rights” (Livine, Lloyd and Greene 15). Effects on the Community
These girls then become women and mothers who have the self-confidence to demand a better life for themselves, their children and their community and they are not afraid to put pressure on local government to get things accomplished. These girls mothers of the next generation, making them instrumental in ending the cycle of poverty. As educated women, they are likely to: make higher wages Get involved in civic life Advocate for their needs and the needs of their family and community more likely to value education for their own children, especially for the girls Effects on the Community
Conclusion The shift in focus from the Euro-American centric world view, which includes the approach of justice (demanding equal rights for everyone, top-down approach) to a more feminine (African) world view of care and connections (bottom-up approach), we can make further strides in combating social and economic injustices in the developing world. By focusing on a challenging yet caring education of adolescent girls, the course of social and economic development can be changed for the better. By giving them the opportunity to develop their capabilities, they can break the oppressive cycle of poverty. Adolescent girls can be the pivot point for positive social and economic change; it is these girls that carry within them the future.
Works Cited: Baier, Annette. "The Need for More than Justice,” in Held (ed.), Justice and." Justice and Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics. Ed. Virginia Held. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. 47-58. Bermingham, Desmond. We Don't Need No Education? Why the United States Should Take the Lead on Global Education. CGD Notes. Washington DC: Center for Global Development, February 2009. Engster, Daniel. "Care Ethics and Natural Law Theory: Toward an Institutional Political Theory of Caring." The Journal of Politics 66.1 (2004): 113-135. Gilligan, Carol. "Moral Orientation and Moral Development." Justice and Care. Ed. Virginia Held. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. 31-46.
Works Cited: Harding, Sandra. "The Curious Coincidence of Feminine and African Moralities." Women and Moral Theory. Ed. Eva Feder Kittay and Diana T. Meyers. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1987. 298-315. Livine, Ruth, et al. Girls Count: A Global Investment & Action Agenda. Action Agenda. Washington DC: Center For Global Development, 2008. Taylor, Charles. "The Politics of Recognition." Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Ed. Amy Gutmann. Prinston: Prinston University Press, 1994. 25- 73. Tronto, Joan C. "Women and Caring: What Can Feminists Learn About Morality from Caring?" Justice and Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics. Ed. Virginia Held. Bolder: Westview Press, 1995. 101-115.