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illiterate. Things have changed since then. But, while there are now increasing numbers of girls attending school, they are still in a minority. A survey of governmental human rights reports showed that early marriage, pregnancy and unpaid work were the greatest obstacles preventing girls from attending school. This is where we can support young people in general, and girls in particular. We are working towards a world where choices are fully respected and where stigma and discrimination have no place. A big part of what we do is focused on empowering young people to express and assert their rights. We do this through programmes that support comprehensive sexuality education in Nepal. We were asked by the Ministry of Education to train more teachers. The scale of trying to train so many in a short period of time proved difficult. The main

The main obstacle to girls’ equality is the majority of people’s attitude towards sex and sexuality

obstacle, however, was the attitude of the majority of people in Nepal towards sex and sexuality. Girls often remain sheltered by their families, and are expected to maintain social norms about sexual morality. Unlike boys, they are not allowed to go out in the evenings; parents expect daughters to be home by sundown. Discriminatory practices against young women persist: ‘chaupadi’, a practice placing restrictions on girls during menstruation, is widespread. The level of enforcement varies, but

in the most extreme cases they are required to sleep outside the home. They may also be forbidden from touching food being prepared, entering the kitchen, and eating with the rest of the family. Girls frequently miss school when they are menstruating. Our work with and for young people promotes social justice and addresses gender and sexual norms. It is therefore essential that we are involved in education, creating opportunities to discuss these issues. The knowledge of all individuals’ equal value and rights can give young people the confidence to break traditional, destructive sexual behaviour, and instead enter relationships where sexuality is enjoyed on shared terms. When women do not receive a proper education or have educational parity with men, they do not gain skills, they are unable to advance academically, and their opportunity to make a significant economic impact – domestically, in community terms and nationally – is diminished. They are more likely to have more children and less likely to be able to earn sufficient money to support them. If they do receive a proper education, they learn higher level skills, have fewer children, earn more, and extend to their own children the educational opportunity that they themselves benefited from. These benefits of educating girls are recognised through national and global studies. Work around education, skills for life, peer education, tackling discrimination, adequate resources, and family support is a long term investment. This is about enabling girls and those around them to make the right choices for themselves. These are basic human rights. MARCH/APRIL 2013 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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21/02/2013 10:19

Profile for Redactive Media Group

Leadership Focus March/April 2013  

Leadership Focus March/April 2013

Leadership Focus March/April 2013  

Leadership Focus March/April 2013

Profile for redactive