CSW49 Parallel Event 2005

Globalization & Eradication of Poverty


  • Dr. Lih-Rong Wang 
    Professor of Social Welfare, National Taiwan University

  • Ms. Rosellyn Magsaysay 
    President, East Asia Women Peace Award Foundation, Inc; 
    (statement delivered by Ms. Merly Barlaan)

  • Ms. Motoko Sugiyama 
    Vice President, WFWPI; 

  • Ms. Hui-Jung Chi 
    CEO, the Garden of Hope Foundation

Moderator: Ms. Bonnie Berry UN Representative, WFWPI

Moderator, Bonnie Berry opened the panel discussion to an overflowing room of over 100 CSW participants. Panelists did a highly professional job of focusing on education as a tool for girl's empowerment and poverty eradication. According to their areas of expertise and experience, the speakers highlighted grassroots activities, best practices and strategies to engage partners such as the UN, governments, and NGOs for implementation of programs to improve girl's education.

First panelist, Ms. Magsaysay's statement was delivered by Ms. Merly Barlaan.

Ms. Magsaysay's position was from the perspective of a mother and the founder and administrator of numerous charitable foundations in the Philippines. She stated that universal education is a must for all children, reminding us of the commitment of heads of state to the Millennium Development Goal envisioning primary education for all girls and boys by 2015.

Ms. Magsaysay then outlined the rights that children have to survive, develop, be protected and to participate based on the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Finally she encourages governments to show with sincerity that availability of quality education matters, World Bank to support projects that empower NGOs, governments and community institutions to form social development strategies, and governments should work shoulder to shoulder with civil society for poverty eradication programs to include both formal and informal education.

Dr. Wang, as researcher and college professor of social welfare, presented a convincing case for the benefits of girls' education in regard to economic realities and poverty eradication. She stated that educated girls reduce social burdens on government, increase family incomes, create greater workplace participation and a larger, better prepared workforce, and greater political and social participation of women. The side effect is a gender sensitive and gender equal society. Dr. Wang quoted from UNICEF, "Quality basic education for all is vital to society because it produces people who can contribute to the economic and social development that is required to eradicate poverty". An important aspect of Dr. Wang's presentation was her outline of Best Practices in Taiwan that illustrated the importance of enacting laws and mechanisms on the national level in support of gender equality and education for girls. The Chinese Human Rights Assoc. decade long study indicated that education for girls was the most important right for protecting the human rights of girls and women. Taiwan has established an Equal Opportunity Education Policy that includes a parenting education law intending to improve parents' efficacy in having non-gender discriminatory attitudes toward their children. Also, a mandatory education policy has been instigated, entitling children to 9 years of education without gender bias or discrimination. Taiwan Parliament enacted the Gender Equality Employment Act in 2003, advocating nondiscriminatory, women/family friendly and anti-harassment work environments. Many community based women and girls' education programs have been instigated through community colleges and women's groups to raise awareness about gender justice and gender equity. Finally, Dr. Wang emphasized the importance of NGO's playing a role in monitoring the implementation of the Gender Equality Acts, dedicating resources to creating discrimination free learning environments for girls, as well as parent education regarding gender equality.

Ms. Sugiyama shared her wealth of experience and the experiences of WFWPI's overseas volun-teers from Japan. She spoke about school construction and main-tenance programs, voca-tional training, micro credit programs, foster parent (child sponsorship) programs, scholarships, literacy, medical and hygiene, farm and food support projects, AIDS prevention and moral education, as well as character education programs. Ms. Sugiyama stressed that even the hygiene and farm/food support programs have education components. Admittedly, WFWPI education programs involve boys as well. But since girls are often at a disadvantage culturally or because of religious perspective, and are most heavily impacted in conflict and post conflict situations, Ms. Sugiyama emphasized the importance of giving more and special attention to the development of educational programs serving girls. Ms. Sugiyama continued by delineating WFWPI programs exclusively serving girls, including scholarship programs, foster parenting, the Peace High School for girls in Uganda and the Jamoo Girls Vocational Training School in Senegal. One of the most important issues that Ms. Sugiyama revealed was the problem that girls face in overcoming trauma, such as witnessing civil war and bloody slaughter in the case of girls in Uganda. The Japanese volunteers quickly saw how these children were broken and numb as a result of the trauma they had experienced. This gave rise to the need to address this deep issue through showing consistent care as well as character education, instructing the youth on emotional empowerment, cultivating a caring heart, how to cope with family struggles and how to take responsibility, among others. The children responded readily to the care and instruction they were given in this area. Ms. Sugiyama emphasizes the key role that character education plays in healthy human development.

Our final panelist, Ms. Chi has devoted herself to rescue and rehabilitation of girl prostitutes in Taiwan. Recovering girls are placed in special homes where they are taken care of and taught the basic skills of living. They receive care and counseling as well as education about spiritual matters. The girls are also trained in skills that will allow them to be employed and support themselves. Ms. Chi communicated the many ways that her organization, Garden of Hope Foundation is attacking the problem of girl prostitution. She acknowledged that it is a problem of society, and men's image of girls and women. Her organization uses many practical tactics to address the problem. They include; public relations campaigns targeting reeducation of men, public marches, public theatre that illustrates the destructive nature of the problem, art displays and others. It was inspiring to hear of the girl's lives that had been saved and also the many practical methods of raising awareness and creating social change that have been implemented by the Garden of Hope and Ms. Chi.

Thoughtful comments and questions from the audience demonstrated how attentive they had been. One listener emphasized the importance of the way that WFWPI service projects empower girls and women and teach them or provide them with tools to achieve their own financial in-dependence. She was from Africa, and strongly urged against aid projects that created dependency rather than independence. Another was passionate to receive the printed report of Dr. Wang, so she could carefully translate it to her native French and use it as a tool to convince others about the importance of legislative change on behalf of the advancement of girls and women and gender equity in education and society. Following the close of the meeting there was vigorous discussion among the panelists and audience.