From the Frontlines of CSW 62, Part 6: Essentialism at its “Finest”

March 19, 2018 pablo (15)

This is the sixth part of a series of blogposts from our engagement with the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (#CSW62)  taking place at the UN headquarters in New York City. Read the first part here, second part here, third part here, the fourth part here, and the fifth part here. This article was written by ARROW partner, Dr. Y.K. Sandhya of SAHAYOG.

Did you know the final purpose of education is to align girls to the true purpose of her life – which is to love?

A side event organised on Day 4 of the CSW62 purported that the most important way to promote the rights of rural women and girls was to ensure that they receive an integral, holistic education. One of the speakers went on to clarify that the purpose of education was to empower girls, which should not just be limited to economically or socially empowering them nor was it meant to increase her sexual agency.  The current approach to education, according to the speaker, was reductionist in nature, as it tended to view the girl as a cog in the wheel of development.  The speaker proposed an alternative view, where education was seen as being holistic, integral and people-centric.  Such an education was meant to promote dignity of the girl as a human being and in order to do so, it needed to align with the ultimate purpose of a girl’s life, which was ‘love’. Education for girls needed to embrace her identity as a girl who becomes a woman and therefore needs to affirm her purpose in life which is ‘to serve others’.

A woman, according to the speaker, was born with the capacity of room for others; she was meant to be in relationships with others – that was her primary purpose in life!  And therefore he felt that the first responsibility to provide education was not that of the government but of the family, because a girl is born into a family and her education starts even before the government steps in.

Also, are you under the impression that you can successfully raise a girl child by being a single mother? Think again is what a speaker at the CSW 62 side event advocated for. Using facts and figures, the speaker demonstrated that it was possible to have strong daughters only with involved fathers. He mentioned that girls who did not live with their biological fathers, were 7 times at a greater risk of getting pregnant, more likely to do drugs, less likely to be successful in school and more likely to be raped. On the other hand, girls who had their biological dads looking out for them, were more likely not to get into any of the above situations, and were less likely to be over dependent on men! He concluded by stating that dads had a very important and essential role to play for girls to receive a holistic education.

My question for you to ponder – is this what the United Nations feels is essential for the promotion of the status of women and girls, whether or not they reside in rural areas? If it is not (and I sincerely hope so it is not), how come side events like this are held in prime locations – right inside the UN head quarters building? And how come other NGO events are held in far off corners at odd hours?

Dr. Y.K. Sandhya,


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