Child Welfare Fund International (CWFI)
Monthly Monday Memo
Sent to Child Welfare Leaders Worldwide
PUBLISHED THE FIRST MONDAY MONTHLY BY
CHILD WELFARE FUND INTERNATIONAL
Secretariat: National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence
Asian Crisis Deals Setbacks to Women
Excerpted from the New York Times
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
The Asian financial crisis has been a special disaster for women.
The bottom line across most of Asia, from the office suites of Japan to the peasant villages of Indonesia, has always been that resources are allocated disproportionately to men and boys. In times of bounty, there are plenty of leftovers for women; in lean times like these, it is women who are the leanest of all.
As a result of the financial crisis, women are disproportionately losing their jobs and families are pulling their daughters out of school or even selling them to brothels.
Indonesia has been hit by the Asian financial crisis, by a drought and by political turmoil that has further ravaged the economy. The number of children dropping out of elementary school in poor areas of Indonesia has doubled in the last few months, aid organizations say, and the great majority of the dropouts are girls.
This is not a new problem, for even before the crisis, girls in Indonesia were six times more likely than boys to drop out of school before the fourth grade. But the long economic boom in Asia had been chipping away at the gender discrimination and creating new opportunities for girls and women.
Now, development experts say, that process has been reversed. Interviews around the region suggest that in these times of scarcity, job opportunities for women and educational opportunities for girls are narrowing again.
That is a problem in many parts of Asia, for in times of difficulty even most food and medical care go to males. Some say this is because it is the men who do the hardest work and therefore need the most energy. Others say it is because of traditions that sons carry on the family name and family line, while daughters marry into other families and represent a familial dead end.
Scholars say that it is not that parents deliberately starve their daughters, but rather that they take the choicest bits of meat out of the pot and set them on the plate of the father or the eldest son. Or parents rush their sick son to the doctor, but when their daughter is ill they feel her forehead doubtfully and say, "Well, let's see how you are tomorrow."
As a result, in much of Asia girls die at a higher rate compared with boys than in most other parts of the world -- whether rich areas like the United States or poor areas like sub-Saharan Africa. It is too soon to see whether this financial crisis will worsen the imbalance, but the risks are evident.
Another consequence of the Asian financial crisis in the home may simply be that a lot more women are getting beaten up every evening. The evidence is anecdotal, but aid organizations and women themselves say the strains of financial hardship are leading to more violence in the homes. This appears most common not in middle class families but in the villages and urban slums that have been worst affected by the financial crisis.
Maternal mortality rates are already high in Southeast Asia, for a woman is 16 times as likely to die in childbirth in Thailand as in the United States, 30 times as likely in Indonesia, and 43 times as likely in Myanmar.
In the labor market, women have been particularly hard-hit in north Asian countries with a Confucian heritage, places like South Korea and Japan.
Yet the discrimination is not necessarily rooted in misogyny. In an odd way, it is in some cases based on a genuine desire to minimize the pain of layoffs.
The best and brightest women graduates can still often get good jobs. A look at hiring records of 55 Japanese companies shows that the proportion of women being hired for fast-track "career" jobs this year is roughly the same as in 1990 or has even slightly increased. Now as then, women are hired for about 15 percent of these career-track jobs, which offer excellent prospects for promotions but mean sacrificing one's family life for the company.
The greatest challenge for women in northeast Asia, therefore, is faced not be the most ambitious and talented women graduates who compete for the career track but by more ordinary people. Traditionally, women did not enter the career track but worked as office ladies. They are the least important employees -- in Japanese they are called "flowers of the workplace" and are treated as partly ornamental -- and so when companies run into financial distress those are the kinds of positions that are cut out.
Some Japanese say, therefore, that the discrimination is not so much in the workplace, which is quite naturally weeding out the non-essential staff. More broadly, they say, the problem lies in the social values that channel young women to the slow track and that require mothers, but not fathers, to take off from work to take part in school activities and look after sick children.
The economic crisis has driven families in places like Thailand and Indonesia to sell their own daughters to brothels.
Although such transactions have long been common in Southeast Asia, they seem to have become more frequent in recent months, according to social workers and local news reports. There have never been reliable statistics on the sale of girls, and the authorities often do not intervene.
In Indonesia, local newspapers and aid workers report that complex deals are now taking place in which loans are made to peasants with a woman as the collateral. If the peasant defaults, then the lender gets the woman.
One study by the University Diponegoro in the major Indonesian city of Semarang found that since the crisis the number of Semarang's street children aged 13 to 15 had increased 43 percent. The study also found that 30 percent of girls who became street children had turned to prostitution to support themselves.
One might think that the sex industry would suffer during difficult economic times because men have less cash to pay for entertainment. But as social workers describe it, the business is almost entirely supply-driven: it expands because there are more girls desperate for any cash at all, even at much lower rates than normal.
From the archives:
World’s Family Violence Prevention Leaders Meet in Singapore - Create New International Network
Nine years ago, in 1998, more than 400 Delegates from 42 countries met in Singapore at the first World Conference on Family Violence. The delegates were leaders in the prevention of child abuse, spouse/partner abuse and elder abuse within the family.
A significant outcome of the World Conference was the creation of an International Network on Family Violence (INFV) as a first step in founding an international non-governmental organization focusing on the prevention of family violence.
The Secretariat for the INFV is the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence (NCCAFV) in the United States. For information or to participate in the Network, contact:
New ILO Child Labor Treaty Readied
Excerpted from The New York Times
A proposed treaty to outlaw the most exploitative forms of child labor will have a mechanism calling for follow-up reporting of abuses that would encourage countries to abide by their pledges to end economic exploitation of children.
The new convention takes a more limited approach, focusing on such extreme forms of child labor as working in mines and prostitution.
Surveys indicate that about 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work worldwide.
The new initiative by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, comes 25 years after the body first tried to curb such abuses. But nearly two-thirds of the ILO's 174 member nations, particularly developing countries, chose not to sign it. That convention barred children under 15 from working, except in the poorest countries where the age was set at 13. And no child under 18 could work in heavy industry.
USA Approves Crackdown on Child-Sex Crimes
Excerpted from the Washington Post
The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to crack down on sexual crimes against children, particularly where the Internet played a role. The measure would create new child-sex offenses and increase existing penalties for adults who seek and engage in sexual activity with children.
The bill would: establish fines and up to five years in prison for anyone using the mail, Internet or other means to contact a minor for criminal sexual activity; double from five to 10 years in prison the penalty for enticing a minor to cross state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity and make it a crime to use the mail, Internet or other means to distribute personal information about a minor for sexual activity; prohibit unsupervised access to the Internet by federal prisoners; and encourage state officials to take similar steps.
Placing A Value on Caring for Children, Animals and Automobiles in the USA
The New York Times published a chart showing the median hourly wage for various occupations in the United States. "Child care worker" got paid less than "animal caretaker" or "parking lot attendant." Anyone surprised?
Longer, Healthier Lives, Says WHO
Life in the 21st century should be longer and healthier for more people than ever, the World Health Organization predicts. Worldwide, WHO says, premature deaths -- before age 50 -- will be cut in half by 2025 due to major gains in health care in developed and developing countries.
But life expectancy and living standards in the richest and poorest nations will remain widely disparate. Life expectancy at birth in selected countries in 2025 (1997 figure in parentheses)
ARGENTINA 78 (73)
AUSTRALIA 81 (78)
BRAZIL 74 (67)
BRITAIN 80 (77)
CANADA 81 (79)
CHINA 75 (70)
COSTA RICA 80 (77)
FRANCE 81 (79)
INDIA 71 (62)
INDONESIA 73 (65)
JAPAN 82 (80)
NEW ZLND 80 (77)
PHILIPPINES 75 (68)
RUSSIA 72 (64)
SAUDI ARABIA 77 (71)
SIERRA LEONE 76 (70)
SOUTH AFRICA 74 (65)
SPAIN 81 (78)
THAILAND 76 (69)
TUNISIA 76 (70)
UGANDA 59 (41)
USA 80 (77)
CWFI’s Projects for Partnership in 2019
Child Welfare Fund International is entering into PROJECTS FOR PARTNERSHIP in 2019. It will:
1. Cooperate and collaborate with NGOs around the world concerned with the welfare of children;
2. Identify local, national and international program initiatives for assistance;
3. Provide program support to enable capacity building and organizational development.
The Hand to Hand Network is at the heart of PROJECTS FOR PARTNERSHIP. Hand to Hand is a network of individual child welfare experts who volunteer to be matched with child welfare programs around the world for short-term volunteer technical assistance and training efforts directed at program design, practice procedures, policy development, community relations and resource development.
Monthly Monday Memo (MMM) is published by Child Welfare Fund, Int'l (CWFI)
For information, contact:
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Washington, DC 20036