Monthly Archives: May 2010

Global Summit Acknowledges Successes, but inequality is far from over

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Written by Lisa DeBenedictis

“Women at the Forefront of Change”, the 20th Annual Global Summit of Women, was held in Beijing, China, last week, on May 20 through May 22.

Many of the world’s top female government officials, government ministers, business leaders and CEO’s from six continents were present.

Among topics of discussion and goals of the summit were the advancement of women’s economic opportunities, making connections with and drawing inspiration from other female leaders, and learning about ways to enable women leaders regionally, nationally, and world-wide.

The summit is put on each year by Globe Women, an organization that works to promote women in business.

According to the summit’s website and online brochure, many women are increasingly holding positions in pivotal and influential jobs.

“The percentage of women in various trades requiring higher technical skills and intensified knowledge is also rising dramatically, as evidenced by the increasing number of women working in hi-tech industries, such as computer science, software, telecommunication and finance. [In China] in fields such as education, culture, arts, media, healthcare, and sports, women have become the majority,” read the summit’s 2010 brochure.

At Barakat, we support the growth and empowerment of female leadership, and believe that the ability for women to achieve success in their careers and in leadership positions begins with education.

Despite acknowledging how far they have come, many of the speakers expressed that there is still much inequality and underrepresentation of women, particularly in business leadership positions.

According to The New York Times article “Unlocking Access to the Boardrooms”, the number of female company directors is still severely lacking across the globe. With Norway as one of the major exceptions (taking the lead at 44 percent), the United States has 15.2 percent, Britain has 12.2 percent, and China with 7.2 percent.

Among some of the even lower scores was one of the countries Barakat works in, India (with 5.1 percent). For us at Barakat, statistics like these show us that it is vital for us to continue to advocate and support female education through our schools in countries such as India.

Read more about our India schools and learn how you can help bring education—and empowerment—to women and children in some of the countries that need it most.

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Girls Gassed in Afghanistan

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Sadly, the burning of schools and death threats seem not to be enough for insurgents and rebel groups in Afghanistan. The newest tactic in keeping girls away from school? Poison. Throughout these past couple of weeks, over 100 schoolgirls fell ill, after collapsing in school due to a poisonous gas. The students complained of nausea, vomiting, and fainting. One girl described the incident like this: “I wanted to scream so hard and I felt like someone was choking me, moments after I smelt the gas.” Three of the poisonings took place in the Afghan province of Kunduz, and one this past week, in Kabul. The substance used in all four cases appears to be the same. Almost a year ago, a similar incident occurred in Kapisa province. The Taliban have denied responsibility. The Taliban and government alike have blamed the attacks on anti-government groups, determined to undermine stability in the country.

The amazing thing about this is not that the insurgents are still trying to deter girls from being educated. That is what being radical is all about: not giving up. The amazing thing is that they haven’t been as successful as one might think. Throughout the Taliban rule women in Afghanistan kept their hope and determination for a better future. Now, despite attempt after attempt to keep girls at home, they continue to pursue an education. One of the girls who was poisoned this past week in Kabul said she wanted to keep going to school, with her family’s permission. That’s the kind of determination that’s commendable, and even heroic. Yet, it’s not uncommon. Everyday girls go to school facing the threat of an attack, but they are still enthusiastic about learning.