More than 300 gender and youth practitioners convened last month in Washington, DC, for the Gender 360 Summit to explore the theme of positive girl and boy development. Panels examined how gender issues intersect with health, education, economic empowerment, and gender-based violence among girls, boys, and youth of diverse gender identities.
Over the past few years, donors and development organizations have increased their commitment to gender issues among girls and boys. The U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls is a good example, one that has drawn additional resources and attention to the problem that around the world, girls are often denied opportunities that boys receive at a critical time in their development—adolescence. This insight points to opportunities to intervene and change the trajectories of their lives.
The Asia Foundation cosponsored the summit and had a large presence. Ramani Jayasundere, director of gender justice in Sri Lanka, spoke on a panel about The Asia Foundation’s access-to-justice work and responding to gender-based violence. The Foundation’s gender fellow, Onaba Payab, addressed a plenary session about girls’ education and empowerment in Afghanistan. I had the privilege of serving as a facilitator for a gender-lounge roundtable on girl-focused gender analysis, which spotlights the specific challenges facing girls.
The conversation focused on two key issues: (1) all gender analyses should (but rarely seem to) consider the roles, norms, opportunities, and project impacts related to girls and boys, not just men and women; and (2) there are not enough quality gender analyses of youth programs, which too often remain gender blind. The Gender 360 Summit theme was a timely one, and an example of thought leadership on gender equality work with girls and boys that will move the development community forward on this important issue.
Elizabeth Silva is a senior program officer for The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program in Washington, D.C. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.
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