Dana Schmidt, Echidna Giving
Welcome to the December installment of The Puggle. This month we are keeping it short and sweet. In the spirit of the holidays and year-end reflections, we are taking a look back at the five greatest gifts of 2017:
THE LEARNING CRISIS HAS TAKEN CENTER STAGE. Why is a crisis a gift? Because you can’t fix a problem unless you admit you have one. And it is now clearer than ever that we have a problem and that it’s a big deal for girls.
THERE IS NEW EVIDENCE TO BRING TO BEAR ON GIRLS’ EDUCATION. To highlight three examples: (1) the World Development Report shows that the learning crisis is not inevitable; (2) a cross-country study by the Population Council reveals where girls face challenges in education and how that differs across countries; and (3) J-PAL’s review of effective ways to increase access to education, disaggregated by gender. This type of evidence brings more nuance to the conversation on girls’ education and helps us to adopt smarter strategies.
WE KNOW MORE ABOUT GENDER THAN EVER BEFORE: how differences that seem biological are influenced by norms, how gender norms are hardwired at a young age and shape what children believe is possible for them, and how those social norms can be changed. It’s clear that gender norms affect boys and girls, women and men alike. They can drive lower educational achievement by boys and preserve male dominance nevertheless. Gender is Not [exclusively] a Women’s Issue.
GOVERNMENTS HAVE TAKEN DECISIVE POLICY ACTIONS IN FAVOR OF WOMEN AND GIRLS. Free secondary education in Kenya, Ghana and Karnataka should benefit girls. Canada launched a Feminist International Assistance Policy. Governments are getting guidance on gender-responsive plans for education and even The Economist is touting gender budgeting. (Yes, this is the “glass half full” take on government policy actions in 2017—not all policies were so favorable for women and girls and even free secondary education won’t be meaningful unless it offers quality learning opportunities.)