Monthly Archives: July 2015

Sexism in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011

Egyptian Reem Wael argues women’s liberation has little chance to succeed in a nationalist struggle because, “national revolutions are inherently male, recognizing male efforts and contributions and reflecting male aspirations.”[i] Nationalism is “generally a masculine project which adopts masculine notions and masculine hopes.” Women are allowed to participate but not to feature feminist goals, told their issues will be considered after the revolution as Nehru and Gandhi told women involved in their liberation struggle. Exceptions are women’s movements developed at the same time as nationalist movements in Algeria, South Africa, Palestine and some Latin American countries.[ii]

The Egyptian struggle fought for bread, freedom and dignity, but women were not organized as a group to make demands for women’s rights. Wael said women were betrayed as soon as formal politics took over after Mubarak’s dethroning and women were told to go back home. When SCAF took control, no woman was appointed to the constitutional committee, no women were in negotiations between SCAF and political parties, the first cabinet included one woman, and parliamentary quotas for women were removed. Women voters could have organized to put pressure on the SCAF but didn’t.

Wael reported the “woman friendly” atmosphere in Tahrir changed the day that Mubarak resigned. Women were described as worthy of respect and protection only because of their relationship to a father, husband, or son and told to stay safely at home. The first time a specifically women’s event occurred, it was attacked. When a small group of women and men marched on International Women’s Day in 2011, mixed sex crowds followed them chanting Islamic slogans. Some of the marchers were assaulted by a group of men so the group had to leave Tahrir Square. Women’s marches, including March 11, surrounded themselves by a chain of men for protection. The violence continued as with the attack on the blue bra protester in November.

[i] Reem Wael, “Betrayal or Realistic Expectations? Egyptian Women Revolting,” Interface Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, May 2014, pp. 478-491.

Click to access Interface-6-1-Wael.pdf

[ii] Lina Suneri, “Moving Beyond the Feminism Versus Nationalism Dichotomy,”

Canadian Women’s Studies, Vol 20, 2000, pp. 143-148.


Is Lady Gaga a Feminist?

Lady Gaga’s new brand of feminism is explored in J. Jack Halberstam’s book Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal. The author (who identifies as male but was born female) argues that popular woman singers are sexually assertive following in the path of Madonna. More than being sexually aggressive, Gaga (born 1986) advocates “being yourself.” “Postgender” she portrays a variety of genders (she acts as a man called Jo Calderone) and advocates gay rights.[i] Bisexual, she tweeted, “Justice for the nerds, the disenfranchised + the insecure.” She said her greatest accomplishment was to influence young people “to throw away what society taught them is wrong. Gay culture is the very essence of who I am and I will fight for women and for the gay community until I die.”

[i] J. Jack halberstam, “Lady Gaga Embodies a New Model of Feminism,” October 13, 2012.

Gender Differences Rating the Arab Spring

When asked in a Gallup poll in 2011 if their lives were better of worse after the Arab Spring, both genders rated it worse along with a decline in the national economy, but they believe their lives will be better in five years. Fewer women felt safe walking alone at night after the uprisings, although reported theft only increased in Tunisia. About 80% of both genders agreed that girls and boys should have equal access to education, but women were more likely to support women’s right to work outside the home. The greatest percent of men who opposed women’s paid work was in Yemen, while Syria was the only country where men were more supportive than women. The main influence on men’s support for women’s rights was not their support for Sharia but their economic situation. This suggests that economic difficulty is more of a threat to women’s rights than Islamic beliefs. Fewer men and women supporting women’s right to divorce, with Tunisia having the biggest gap between women’s and men’s’ support (49% of men were supportive compared to 81% of women). Women were more spiritual in their practices than men in all countries expect Yemen. Religious Arabs are slightly more likely to favor women’s rights such as ability to initiate divorce. Gallup found that religious views about Sharia law were not as influential as the economic situation.

“After the Arab Uprisings: Women of Rights, Religion, and Rebuilding,” Gallup, 2012.

African Problem of Girls Relying on Sugar Daddies to Pay for Education

A recent college graduate in Zambia observes,

We have too many reasons causing such behaviors (young girls involvement in sugar

daddies relationships) such as poverty, ignorance, funny, force or

coercion from guardians or parents and many more. But the most causer

is the tendency by girls especially those in high school and college

wanting to have extra monies for upkeep. Results from such actions has

been increased HIV, STI’s infections, unwanted pregnancies, broken

families and marriages and mistrust in the institution of marriage

from young people. Just as one of our ministers said that teenage

pregnancy is a very serious problem and it comes because our children

do not get enough exposure to help them make well-informed decisions. I personally feel that we need to curb poverty and ignorance levels

because Zambia still has a young population of which more than half

are young below 15 years, plus out 10 3 are males, so you can imagine

the number of females (young) that we have and yet are exploited and

not protected by these shameless elderly men.


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Youth Unemployment a Ticking Time Bomb

Youth have to cope with chronic unemployment a “ticking time bomb.”[i] Jeffrey Joerres, CEO of Manpower (MAN), a temporary-services firm with offices in 82 countries warns, “Youth unemployment will clearly be the epidemic of this next decade unless we get on it right away. You can’t throw in the towel on this.” A global problem is NEETs, youth not in employment education, or training—including an increase to 5.8 million in the US (the endnote includes suggestions for how to solve the problem).[ii] A UK charity reported that 27% of employed young people are often or always depressed, with the percentage rising to almost half for NEETs, in an era when youth unemployment is around 20%.[iii] Suicide rates are increasing. In the US, 5.6 million young people ages 16 to 24 are NEETs, causing $27 billion spent on public assistance, health care and incarceration in 2013.[iv] In response, businesses, governments and foundations formed the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative tin 2015 to provide jobs and apprenticeships to 100,000 young people over the following three years.

[i] Peter Coy, “The Youth Unemployment Bomb,” Bloombergy Businessweek, January 1, 2011.

[ii] Elisabeth Jacobs, “Twelve Ways to Fix the Youth Employment Crisis,” Governance Studies at Brookings, May 2014.

Click to access brookings_jacobsunemployment_to%20print.pdf

[iii] “UK: Half of Jobless Youth Suffering Depression,” Rebel Youth, January 30, 2013.

[iv] Howard Schultz and Sheri Schultz, “Connecting Young People with Jobs,” New York Times, July 13, 2015.

Millennial Employees Value Relationships

What claims to be the largest global generation study of Millennial employees under age 33 reviewed over 9,000 surveys of Milliennial employees, plus 300 interviews and 30 focus groups, in 2011 and 2012. The PwC network of professional services provides tax, assurance and advisory services. By 2016 almost 80% of PwC employees were Millennials and administration was worried about low retention for that age group. Their findings back up my observation they’re the Relationship Generation. They’re more likely to leave “if their needs for support, appreciation and flexibility are not met.” What’s important to young workers is time to develop their personal lives—especially employees in developed countries, flexibility and leverage of technology and social media at work, interesting team work and emotional connection at work. Frequent feedback and support from managers is more important than salary. Millennials like having possibility of assignments in another country due to being “particularly attuned to the world around them,” and corporate social responsibility programs that match their values and appreciate input into important issues more often than older generations.

Dennis Finn and Anne Donovan, “PwC’s NextGen: A Global Generational Study”, 2013

Engaging and Empowering Millennials

What Global Youth Want from their Education

In recent surveys of millions of young people, they picked improve education as the most important global issue. Entrepreneurial in sprit, they want education to include practical skills, an entrepreneurial learning environment where they learn from doing, get performance feedback, access social networks and involve employers. Over two-thirds favor a 70-20-10 model where most of the learning includes internships and volunteering, followed by interaction with mentors and peers, with only the last 10% formal classroom curriculum. The skills they most need to succeed are learning new languages, public speaking, leadership, and critical thinking. Isha, 24, in Mozambique said, ‘students are often tuck in classrooms learning things that were not relevant to their future careers. I want to see more practical skills development that also enables young people to innovate and get more creative.” They’re frustrated about their job prospects after university graduation but at the same time over two-thirds intend to be a leader or senior decision-maker.

“Youth Speak: Powered by AIESEC. YouthSpeak Survey Millennial Insight Report. 2015.” 42,257 respondents from 100 countries and territories, a majority between the ages of 18 to 25.

Global Youth think education is more important than climate change

In spite of living on a sick planet, only 9% of young adults in a large global survey picked climate change as the most serious global issue, almost at the bottom of a list headed by better education and poverty issues.[i] The 2015 AIESEC survey included 42,000 young adults, ages 18 to 25, from 100 countries and territories. In A UN My World survey with 4.4 million respondents ages 16 to 30, they also picked a good education as the most important global issue, followed by better healthcare, better job opportunities and an honest government. Climate change was at the bottom of the list.

[i] “Youth Speak: Powered by AIESEC. YouthSpeak Survey Millennial Insight Report. 2015.” 42,257 respondents from 100 countries and territories, a majority between the age of 18 to 25.


Since the MDGs expired in 2015, new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were formulated based on input from around the world. Children and youth were included after representatives from the Netherlands suggested the need for youth input, which should have been obvious. The World Children Want Internet platform solicited responses from over 47 countries representing thousands of youth. They believe that humans have a right to food, water, health, and protection of the planet. Their top priority is education, which repeats results of the My World global survey that collected over 7.6 votes since it was launched in 2013. Ending hunger got as many votes as education. The respondents said that current problems are discouraging as almost half of the people living in extreme poverty are 18 years and younger, so they’re glad to have the hopeful SDGs. A criticism is the new goals seldom mention children and youth and adults approach youth as beneficiaries rather than partners.


A Post-2015 Agenda Understood by and Inspiring to Children and Young People,” UNICEF, July 2015.

Sugar Daddies Needed for Some Afriacan Girls to Stay in School

Tshepiso Gower, 19, f, Botswana, a member of the British Council’s Global Changemakers, reported African girls are encouraged to go to school so that “they do not go for short cuts like sugar daddies.”

Materialism and girl-to-girl peer pressure influence girls who are conscious of the different levels of wealth and poverty. Small differences, such as having transportation to school vs. walking, make girls susceptible to agreeing to sugar daddies for rides, for instance. Girls need to support other girls to make good decisions. [i

I asked Maame, age 23,  if this is a widespread problem:

The situation you mention is very common in many parts of Ghana. Usually most of these girls come from homes where selling sex is frowned upon. However, due to dire economic crises in many homes today, unemployment and inadequate education, young girls are left with the option of selling sex to sugar daddies in order to continue to attend school or to just take care of their household. Most parents are aware of this but usually cannot stop their children because they may also be benefiting indirectly from these services. 

[i] Maria Eitel, “Report on Davos Forum,” January 30, 2010,