**This class will be taught In-Person**
**Note that this course will not meet on 4th of July**
After the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, chairman Mao Zedong rallied women to join the labor force, saying, “Whatever men comrades can accomplish, women comrades can too”, and proclaiming that “Women hold up half the sky”. The reality is that the achievement of equality in status, rights and opportunities for women and girls remains elusive despite the strong evidence of benefits that would accrue not just to women but to their families, communities, countries, and the entire world. Focusing primarily but not exclusively on low income countries, this course will examine how to unleash the potential of three billion women and girls and the impact that this will have on us all.
The challenges faced by women and girls are daunting. For example, according to the United Nations, one third of women in low income countries were married before they were 15 years old, more than one third of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence, over 2.7 billion women worldwide are legally restricted from the job options available to men, and women are sorely under-represented in positions at all levels of political power.
In this course, we will review the current status of women and girls in the areas of health, education, the economy and political voice, and examine the evidence about how improvements will contribute to poverty alleviation, democracy, and even climate change mitigation. The goal of the course is to have a better understanding of a. the situations faced by women and girls in their quest for a better life, b. the steps that have proven successful in overcoming the challenges women and girls face, and c. the impact of enhanced life options for women and girls on the lives of men and boys.
This in-person course will be a combination of lecture and class discussion.
Week One: Overview of the situation of women and girls in the areas of health, education, economy, politics, examination of progress made in recent years and the priority challenges that remain. What actions are being taken to help women and girls improve their life options
Week Two: Health: The basic building block of having a better life is good health. We will examine how women around the world experience sexual and reproductive health including pregnancy and childbirth. What major obstacles are faced, and what are the cultural, financial and programmatic options for overcoming these.
Week Three: Education: Many experts believe that the single most important development investment is the education of girls. We will look at the evidence focusing on education options for girls including those in rural areas of low income countries, what steps can be taken to increase opportunities for schooling including protecting adolescent girls from sexual violence, how communities and families can increase their support of girls’ education, and how norms on age at marriage and the timing of the first birth affect life possibilities. In some high and middle income countries there is now a higher percentage of women in college than men. What are some of the societal implications of this change?
Week Four: The Economy: In all regions of the world women are paid less than men, are over-represented in low wage jobs that offer few protections, and spend 2.5 times more time than men on household work and childcare. We will examine how the status of women affects their economic opportunities including access to credit, training opportunities and the disadvantages they face in terms of control and ownership of land and other assets. We will review how climate change including difficulties in accessing water and clean energy impact women’s role in the economy. We will also discuss the situation of women migrant workers.
Week Five: Political Voice: The UN estimates that at the current rate, women will not achieve equality with men for the highest positions of political power for another 130 years! We will look at political representation of women at national and local levels in different regions of the world. We will examine the impact of gender quotas such as reserved seats for women in national parliaments and the evidence to date on what difference these have made in terms of democracy and types of legislation. We will also review the evidence, albeit limited, on whether expanding political participation of women affects how politicians work together and the types of issues championed by women political leaders.
Week Six: General Overview and Future Priorities: What might the world look like as the status of women and girls improves? As the wellbeing of women and girls are enhanced, how will/should the change in the relative status of men and boys be managed?. Will the rising tide raise all ships or will there by problems? What is the evidence of how women might address huge problems such as climate change and peace and security – will they do any better than men? Where are the major opportunities in the future to help women and girls have better lives?