This article examines multiculturalism and gender equality in the light of ethnicity, gender, and agency so as to illustrate how gender equality is used as a marker of Finnishness in various youth work contexts. The data presented consists of interviews with youth workers (n=42) and ethnographic fieldwork carried out from 2003 to 2005. The results illustrate that questions related to multiculturalism have enhanced the visibility of gender equality in youth work. The identification of gender-based inequality is connected, in particular, to girls from migrant backgrounds whose education and well-being are of social concern. Youth work itself is often seen as gender-neutral and equality-based. However, this illusion of gender equality reflects more the ideals of equality which are not being concretized in the practices of youth work. Equality in this context is defined as a purely quantitative concept: the solution to any possible inequalities is, therefore, that everyone should be treated in the same way.
Theoretical Reflections and the Case of Early School Leaving
Elli Scambor and Victor Seidler
The paper discusses the phenomenon of the “boy crisis” in education by following trajectories which seek to describe the situation of boys at school in different countries across Europe in its complexity. The current study of the Role of Men in Gender Equality (Scambor, Wojnicka & Bergmann, eds., 2012) offers an international comparison of the situation of boys and outlines major trends related to gender disparities in education across Europe. An in-depth analysis of male early school leavers leads to a deeper understanding of boys and men as heterogeneous social groups. Relations between so called “costs” and “privileges” in education show considerable varieties due to differences between boys, with educational careers being strongly influenced by social class, “race,” and ethnicities as well as migration backgrounds.
A Case in Education for the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries
Faryal Khan and Maricel Fernandez-Carag
This article presents a critical case analysis of gender parity in the Sultanate of Oman. By reviewing policy and practice pertaining to gender parity and gender equality in education in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC), specifically in the Sultanate of Oman, lessons and insights can be drawn to formulate strategies for promoting gender parity and equality that will inform an Education 2030 policy dialogue in relation to achieving the new targets for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on Goal 4—quality of education in the next 15 years. Specifically, the article attempts to answer: (1) What are the indicators of progress toward achieving Goal 5 on gender parity? (2) What are the strategies/policies adopted to achieve Goal 5? (3) What are the remaining challenges/obstacles to achieve Goal 5 on gender parity? (4) What are the recommendations to eliminate gender parity and the implications for gender equality reforms?
Challenging Girls in Rural Chinese Schools
Heidi Ross and Lei Wang
Leadership training is often described as an important component and goal of girls' secondary education and also a crucial step for realizing gender equality. This paper explores the possibilities for and barriers to effective leadership training in one "Spring Bud" girls' education project conducted in a poverty-stricken area of Shaanxi Province since 2001. Following a review of the Chinese and international literature on girls' secondary education and leadership training, the authors explore different understandings of "leadership" (and empowerment) among various project stakeholders and indicate the urgency of a mutual understanding of "leadership" and how it might be mentored in girls in formal educational settings. Authors draw upon interviews, observations, student writing, as well as the results of a 2006 survey of nearly 1,000 participating girls and their homeroom teachers, in their discussion of how to connect the concept of "leadership training" with the resources and constraints that shape girls' lives and future educational and career expectations and aspirations. The paper concludes with policy implications.
Local and Global Challenges and Solutions
The rapid political and social changes in Russia in the 1990s contributed to the circulation of many new ideas about what might count as the successful start of adulthood and also about gender norms for young people. My aim in this article is to explore the normativity of girlhood in contemporary Russia by focusing on the Nordic-Russian cooperation project that runs group workshops for girls and by looking, in particular, at a special program that was carried out in the Kaliningrad region. I show that in spite of the special and unique character of the project, the realization of the program in the Russian context partly recalls some other projects in which the general perception of heteronormativity, and the opposition of male/female as natural is left untouched.
Discursive Constructions of Girls-only Spaces for Learning Popular Music
This article elaborates on discursive constructions of girls-only settings through the spatial metaphor of a room of one's own, as articulated in round-table discussions among staff and participants from girl-centered music programs in Sweden. The idea of a separate room refers to spaces for collective female empowerment as well as for individual knowledge acquisition and creativity. These spaces are constructed so as to provide the possibility for exploration, subjectivity, and focus, by offering (partial and temporary) escape from competition and control, from a gendered and gendering gaze, and from distraction. Girl-centered programs are also discussed as paradoxical because they function as gender-neutral when seen from the inside, but gender-specific when seen from the outside.
Emerging Vulnerabilities and New Opportunities for Promoting Changes in Gender Norms
Gary Barker, Ravi Verma, John Crownover, Marcio Segundo, Vanessa Fonseca, Juan Manuel Contreras, Brian Heilman and Peter Pawlak
This article presents a review of global data on boys' education in the Global South and recent findings on the influence of boys' educational attainment on their attitudes and behaviors in terms of gender equality. The article also presents three examples—from Brazil, the Balkans, and India—on evaluated, school-based approaches for engaging boys and girls in reducing gender-based violence and promoting greater support for gender equality. Recommendations are provided for how to integrate such processes into the public education system in such a way that provides benefits for both boys and girls in a relational approach.
Mihaela Miroiu argues that there was/is ‘a deep incompatibility between feminism and communism’ and that the proclaimed communist measures of gender equality were not feminist in intention and meaning. She insists also that one should differentiate between feminism as an ideal and feminism as ideology. Miroiu further claims that, even if there were some individual feminist gestures under ‘communism’, they didn’t have political consequences.
From many perspectives, the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to gender equality and feminism offers a shining example of communism’s ideological limitations, and its historical failure to serve women’s interests. From its earliest days, Chinese communism upheld a platform of ‘sexual equality’ (nannü pingdeng), and implemented numerous policies to protect women’s equal rights. Yet its attacks on the epistemological foundations of Western feminism and its denunciation of the latter as little more than ‘bourgeois individualism’ give clear evidence of Miheala Miroiu’s ‘contradictio in terminis’.
The issues raised by Mihaela Miroiu are complex ones, and there is much about her position that is persuasive and with which I would happily agree. Primarily, that we can barely speak of feminism as the pursuit of individual autonomy during socialism. For, I would argue, communism is a collectivist ideology by definition, so why look there for something that was never meant to be included? Communism was not started to incorporate personal autonomy; its social base is mostly in people for whom other values are more important than autonomy, and it worked for gender equality for other reasons than women’s (or men’s, though this was less problematic) autonomy.