Friday, February 13, 2015

Blog #2: Program Instills Leadership In Teenage Girls In Myanmar, Where Their Opinions Are Often Unheard

This article focuses on an organization called Girl Determined that is currently working with school aged girls in Myanmar. Girl Determined is an organization that aims to give girls a sense of autonomy and agency in areas in which these concepts seem to be less valued when in reference to females. In Myanmar, girls are not usually encouraged to complete much schooling and usually end up in very traditional gender roles from an early age. Even in school, girls are not encouraged to speak their minds and are expected to do things as said in a repetitious manor. Girl Determined is striving to get these young girls to go against the grain of their traditions and challenge the gendered nature of their society.

Gender roles have a huge impact on families and in particular family structure. Historically, gender roles have distinguished social reproductive work from social productive work in families. This distinguishing has lead to the traditional structure of men being the "breadwinners" and females doing more domestic work. One shift that is going on globally is that more and more women have access to a wider range of opportunities once only granted to men. The biggest opportunities include education and work. This has greatly impacted families because now women have more agency within families and some are now choosing to stray away from these traditional family forms.

Overall, I believe that the Girl Determined organization is trying to have a positive impact on the lives of these young girls and broaden their horizons by educating them about how they are sites of negotiation and agency. Although they have good intentions, Girl Determined is not considering the possible negative effects of this program. These young women do operate in a patriarchal society in which males are valued more than females. Considering this and the tradition of female submission these strategies for implementing agency, such as speaking out, could have harmful consequences if these girls are not protected by laws and policies but even then they are not guaranteed protection. Also I do not think that Girl Determined is considering how these ideas and attitudes will change the dynamic of the families in these areas. If the gender roles begin to shift as these young girls become more independent as women, the change could affect marriage rates, birth rates, and the structure of families just as we have seen here in the United States. This just highlights that depending on where you are globally, historically, and culturally, a good idea or program can still have negative affects on people. Personally I think it is awesome that they are encouraging these girls to challenge these gender norms but it would be even better if they provided security and also broadened the group to other populations so more young people can realize they have agency to change the way their society operates.

Indya Perry
2/13/15 @ 11:21PM

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