India, Sudan, Kenya Equality Culture

Podcast 1 by Reel Faisal Elsayed via UN Online Volunteers
Article by Steffica Warwick, SAFIGI Editor

In this Equality Culture podcast, we discussed two cultures. The Indian culture, in which we discussed education and the female labour participation rate; and the African Culture (Sub Saharan Africa), where we focused on education, health care access, as well as the physical and sexual violence that threatens females' safety in the region.




Reel Faisal Elsayed from Sudan mediates a discussion with Singhita from India and Lillian from Kenya about gender equality culture in their respective countries. All three of them live in Dubai. 

In India, the disparities in gender equality can be seen in systems of education and labour participation. On average, only 30% of females attend primary school and 26% upper school. So even in most oppressed regions, the probability of girls attending school is 42% lower than their male counterparts, according to the UN.

What are the obstacles to girls receiving an education? 
These problems start from birth. They have been socialised into discrimination. Cultural barriers stop women from taking advantage of their education. Primary school enrolment is 90%, and attend in roughly equal numbers to boys. But this gap widens as they grow up, for reasons like needing to serve their husbands or families. Child marriage is another thing about India. 

There is a reluctance in Indian parents to invest in their daughters as opposed to their sons - they don’t think it is worthwhile to invest in girls. Because of this there’s a pressure to drop out, and this affects labour participation. 

Government funded education courses and systems for women and girls 
Policies put in action toward education for girls creates an environment that encourages society and culture to invest in their girls and to give them the opportunities that they deserve, and in turn change society’s minds on how they treat girls and boys – this will help to meet literacy targets and the UN’s global goals of focusing on better future for our future generations – investing in them and ensuring that they get the best education and opportunities which will carry on throughout the next generations

This will also impact on society’s attitudes toward women and girls – sex-selective abortion is a million-dollar industry in some regions of the world– with government funded courses, this investment will help to change societal beliefs and views of women and girls and reduce the 30% gender gap in primary school education. 

There’s also a safety issue - girls are afraid. Some walk for three hours just to get to school, risking rape and abuse on the way.

Transport funding can improve girls safety
It is essential that girls are able to get to school in a safe manner – a safe transport system would mean that the main factor stopping girls from attending school in remote and rural areas, sexual harassment and rape, would be wiped out and a higher percentage of girls would be able to get the education that their male counterparts take for granted – this is essential for rural parts of India and Sub-Saharan Africa

This would also help to reduce Africa’s maternal debts, as the percentage of healthcare needed by women who experience sexual harassment, rape and violence would reduce if they were kept safe on their trips to and from school.

Patriarchal societies promote virginity of women. Their mobility is restricted outside of their homes. Man is the judge and jury maker of the family, and women struggle in traditional male dominated jobs. Therefore, women end up in lower paid jobs. 

Economy and infrastructure of war-hit regions are also affected. This makes access to healthcare much more difficult.

Healthcare funding to relieve maternal debt
It is essential for women and girls to receive healthcare designed specifically for them – half of the world’s maternal debts are in Africa, women don’t have access to family planning or basic healthcare and this needs to be made a priority for African healthcare systems

If women had access to basic healthcare, and were educated on it, and their safety prioritized, then the maternal debts and spend would be lowered

In summary, helping and investing in women is not only beneficial to women, but to society as a whole. Women are the at the heart of every society across the world, and if women were invested in and given the same opportunities as men, then the whole of society would benefit.


Equality Culture is a podcast by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation (Safety First for Girls). The discussions on the intersection between Culture and Gender Equality build on SAFIGIs goal for SDG 5 - gender equality and equity, and SDG 11- safer cities. Safety of girls begins with a safe space to talk about what is working in our culture and what needs to be improved.

Culture and various traditions play an integral part of a people who share common everyday experiences. It is a unifying factor which gives each group an identity and sense of belonging detailing the rich history of where people originated from. Many fight and die to preserve their culture and traditions. With globalization, environmental changes and development consistently spreading globally, it has become apparent that some traditional practices promote equal thriving of human beings while others pose a threat to equality and the upholding of human rights.

The #EqualityCulture discussions from across the globe will challenge us to think critically about equality from views of different cultures, thereby creating a first step to a more equal and safer world while embracing our unique values.

This project also aims at bringing volunteers from across the globe to experience a cultural exchange and identify positive traditions as well as speak with one voice supporting the empowerment of females regardless of where you live or what you look like.


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