The Woman Effect

I wasn’t actually sure how to relate this year’s Blog Action Day topic to gaming in a way that didn’t belittle the topic’s seriousness or complexity. The topic is poverty. Poverty is such a huge, complex mess of inter-related issues. Gaming and entertainment seem trivial compared to very basic security needs such as food, shelter, freedom from violence, and access to health care. As gamers know, this medium can be very compelling, and if applied correctly games can be a force for education, which can (eventually) spark real change. I did some research and I found several games that aim to educate people, typically children, about poverty. You can check out a selection of these games at Games for Change – Poverty.

As I continued to research issues that relate to poverty, and there are so many, I came across a video called The Girl Effect:

The Girl Effect initiative seeks to address poverty by focusing on adolescent girls as change agents. Their reasoning is that if we provide opportunities and empower girls, it will benefit society as a whole. I did a bit of research into the company that produced this video, and it turns out that the Nike Foundation is responsible for the Girl Effect initiative. It’s pretty ironic, because Nike is well-known for their reprehensible labour practices. Having said that, it’s good that Nike are highlighting the oppression of women.

Poverty disproportionately affects women:

70 per cent of the world’s poor are women. The majority of the 1.5 billion people living on $1 a day or less are women.

According to the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, women living in poverty are often denied access to critical resources such as credit, land and inheritance. Their labour goes unrewarded and unrecognized. Their health care and nutritional needs are not given priority, they lack sufficient access to education and support services, and their participation in decision-making at home and in the community are minimal. Caught in the cycle of poverty, women lack access to resources and services to change their situation

The Girl Effect’s initiatives are probably quite effective for the girls directly aided through their page at Global Giving. I could donate there to fund educational programmes for girls in India or Kenya, however there are wider social and legal structures that continue to perpetuate harmful social institutions that oppress women. The video and their approach to the issues seem a little overly simplistic, though their intentions are good.

I think that political advocacy is also a powerful way to effect meaningful structural change change and bring about conditions that will make it easier for girls and women to obtain the rights they deserve. I try to speak out and try to effect change in my own way when I encounter gender issues in my daily life. However I think can do more on the political advocacy side. I’m already a member of quite a few mailing lists that inform and alert me whenever an issue I care about needs lawmakers’ attention, and I do take action if it’s concerning an issue I feel strongly enough about. Oddly enough I don’t belong to any groups that advocate specifically for gender equality. To address this, I am going to do more to educate myself on gender equality political advocacy, and take action when issues arise, just as I do with other types of political advocacy. I’m starting with Equality Now.

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