This article argues that there are not enough men involved in the profession of early childhood development education in Kenya. This issue due to many factors including gender stereotypes which look to women as the sole nurturers, therefore are seen as appropriate teachers for young children in Kenya. Due to the lack of men in this field, there is a lack of male role models for young men in early childhood development educations. As the authors explain, “The absence of men in early childhood centers also means young children may be missing out on any substantial contact with male role models.” In addition, many men who are involved in early childhood development education are uncomfortable with their jobs.
86% of the male teachers reported to be comfortable with their teaching job in a pre-school while 14% were not. When probed further they said it was due to how society and parents view them with suspicion. When asked if they feel inferior to female counterparts 98% disagreed while a mere 2% were not sure of their feelings.
As parents look suspiciously at men in this profession, it is not easy for them to remain in their profession comfortably. However, the authors outline that it is necessary for men to be important role models and figures in the lives of both girls and boys in order to create a positive view of masculinity in society.
It was particularly interesting to see that the article pointed out that what men want in their career played into their choosing a career in ECDE.
The literature on what men want from their occupation also suggests career progression is particularly important. For David Baxendell it was the lack of hierarchy that attracted him into the job. He wanted to teach and was not interested in doing administration so the kindergarten structure suited him perfectly since there was no chance of being pushed into teaching older age groups or into administration as he had seen happen to male teachers in primary schools.
Though men may wish to obtain jobs where there is the ability to move up or be promoted, there are also men who are interested in the stability offered by jobs in early childhood development education. However, even if men are interested in ECDE programs, they are still faced with problems upon being involved in them.
This article looks critically at male participation in early childhood development education. It suggests that there are discrepancies between males and females in the profession which create better views of male educators. In the article, not only are the problems discussed, but recommendations are also made. These include the welcoming of male teachers by pre-school administrators, staff diversity in regard to gender, and assessment of culture within the classroom, among others. Not only does the article point out what needs to be done to involve more males in the pre-school classrooms and the profession of early childhood development education, but in addition there are several specific suggestions made for ECDE programs to consider. Among these are:
- Examine your own biases.
- Start a men’s group at the program or school to enable male family members to discuss issues and find support.
- Formally and informally recognize the involvement of men in your program.
These specific suggestions help to not only address the problem in ECDE, but also to address the ways in which specific schools and programs can begin to change the attitudes of parents, teachers and administrators concerning men in ECDE programs.
Upon reading this article, I saw many parallels to the attitudes about early childhood educators in the United States. For example, the article states that men feel that early childhood development education is dominated by women because of:
- Low salaries
- Low respectability
- Fear of being accused of abuse
- Low status of the profession
Although there are different problems facing men in ECDE programs in Kenya versus in the U.S., it is important to note that the gender roles that “govern” teaching careers in both countries are very similar. Therefore, the information in this article is not only valuable to ECDE programs in Kenya, but also to such programs in the U.S. Additionally, the two countries can learn from each other in a type of dialogue in order to simultaneously improve the status of men in early childhood education.
Bloggers Circle #2: Radio Tanzania Archive Project
Bloggers Circle: First Response
One of the Millennium Development Goals is to improve Maternal Health. The study, “Use pattern of maternal health services and determinants of skilled care during delivery in Southern Tanzania: implications for achievement of MDG-5 targets,” analyzed the reasons why many Sub-Saharan African women die during pregnancy, in childbirth, or due to complications of the childbirth. Although the Safe Motherhood Initiative was created several years ago, there is still a high maternal mortality rate. In order to reach the Millennium Development Goal regarding maternal health, this study was conducted. Its goal was to understand maternal morality and look for ways that maternal health can be improved. The study focused on the Mtwara rural district of Tanzania, surveying over 900 women who had given birth within a year of the survey. Due to the survey, the study came to the following conclusion.
“We recommend the following in order to increase our pace towards the millennium development goal targets: To improving coverage of health facilities which provide skilled delivery care, To raise the status of women in terms of education and socio-economic status, and to improve provision of health education to women especially on danger signs during pregnancy and delivery and also intensify individual counseling of women on hospital delivery and on individual birth preparedness.”
The survey looked at the various reasons behind maternal mortality, pointing out factors such as antenatal care and skilled assistance to delivery. However, this study merely presented the reasons behind maternal mortality, rather than working to identify how conditions can be improved and struggles can be overcome.
The study states, “Distance to the health facility was a significant determinant of type of delivery care. This was said to be made worse by the fact that there are no means of transport to the facility. Similar findings were reported by a number of researchers previously [16,18,25].” Although this information is important to understand the cause of maternal mortality, this is only identifying the problem.
Similarly, the study acknowledges that “Women who were knowledgeable of risk factors were more likely to utilize health facilities for delivery compared to those with no knowledge. Similar findings were reported in Malawi and in Zambia [18,24]. It is expected that a better informed individual is better placed to make reasonable decisions.” Therefore, it is assumed that knowledge of the risks is essential to increased likelihood of maternal survival, however, no solution is posed.
Therefore, this study alone does not address how to reach the Millennium Development Goal. It outlines what women need access to, such as skilled delivery and education, but does not search for the implementation of these resources. This study contains useful information as to “what,” but not “how.”
Many questions are left unanswered in this study, yet it can be used as a jumping off point for further research and discussion about maternal health. This research can be used to identify what women need access to. To proceed in implementing “help” in an effective way, the women of Tanzania need to be a part of the process. To avoid cultural misunderstandings, these women need read this study and understand it. The action associated to the findings in this study should be given as a resource to the women at risk, which may help their understanding of maternal mortality.
The information in the study validated my preexisting conceptions about maternal mortality in Africa. I understood that access to proper health services would help women, and this study gave statistical analysis that proved that women who had health care were more likely to survive childbirth. Though this information can be used to implement new programs to decrease maternal mortality, I felt as though the data lacked connection to the individuals being studied. There is value in quantitative data, however, I relate better to qualitative data. Qualitative data lets the “subject” speak. When the data is only numbers based upon responses, a human element of the “subject” is left out and sometimes forgotten.
When the Invisible Children #KONY2012 campaign first gaining internet attention, I watched the video and felt it made relevant points. Mainly due to my recent studies, especially this class, I was skeptical of the work being done by the organization. Although I feel that it is important to raise awareness about this type of warfare and call attention to corrupt leaders, I am unsure if this campaign is doing so in the most effective and culturally-sensitive way. Though I am criticizing Invisible Children, I am not pro-LRA. I am simply exploring this campaign and understanding the band and good that has come of it.
“Any discussion of the intellectual and political construction of ‘Third World feminisms’ must address itself of two simultaneous projects: the internal critique of hegemonic ‘Western’ feminism, and the formulation of autonomous, geographically, historically and culturally grounded feminist concerns and strategies” (Mohanty, 83).
In Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses, Chandra Mohanty discusses the ways that “Third World Women” are seen by “First World Women.” The article addresses how the binary between “First World” and “Third World” was created and how this binary continues to impact women in the “Third World.” Monhanty uses examples of scholars who have perpetuated the assumed negative position of “Third World” women in contrast with scholars who have refuted this view to give the reader an understanding of how Western feminist scholarship has been problematic in the transnational sphere.
Goodwill Ambassador for Women Empowerment, Fiza Batool Gilani has urged the need of socio-economic empowerment of women as well as their enhanced participation in all fields of life in the country to truly realize the dream of self-sufficiency.
For all the ladies, ya’ll rock.
(Photo Source: ruebenmiller)
Women, Culture, and Development
In An Introduction to Women, Culture, and Development an understanding of the ways that women are viewed in the context of development studies is created through the voices of the article’s authors. The authors, Kum Kum Bhavnani, John Foran, and Priya A Kurian help to refocus the ways that women are seen and valued within development studies by contrasting various models and noting their strengths and weaknesses.
The models of development discussed, Women in Development, Women and Development, and Gender and Development, are critically analyzed within the article, helping to create the model of Women, Culture, and Development. Through this critical analysis and an understanding of the ways that women function in their own societies, the Women, Culture, and Development approach is argued by the authors as the best strategy as it encompasses all aspects of women in terms of development.
“Third World” Struggles, “First World Help
The authors expand upon the concept that many women in the Third World face similar struggles to women in “First World” countries. Because of this, women in the First World believe the problems of the Third World women mirror those of First World women.
“Women in the Third World face many challenges, among them poverty, unemployment, limited access to land, legal and social discrimination in many forms, sexual abuse and other forms of violence.” (2)
Although “First World” women are also experiencing these hardships, a Women, Culture and Development approach takes into account the other elements surrounding the “Third World” women’s struggles. The political atmosphere, cultural traditions, and social structure all play into these women’s lives. One cannot assume that an issue such as unemployment is the same in various countries. Each woman experiences unemployment differently, and therefore this needs to be addressed within development models.
The article notes that Western women see the women of the Third World as victims in saying, “Yet in centring Third World women, we intend also to participate in debates over the desirability of bringing many diverse experiences under one rubric, just as ‘woman’ (Butler 1997a, Halberstam 1998) and ‘Third World’ do.” (3) It is then the Western world’s duty to “save” these individuals, as it is seen that women of the “Third World” are unable of saving themselves.
Collectively, the authors of the article raise valid points about how Western societies look at development. Particularly, Bhavnani’s explanation of the model was particularly persuasive, as it focuses on the aspects of “women’s work” and abilities. The idea of essentialism is employed in the argument, creating a basis for knowledge. It then follows by using the concept in a Women, Culture, and Development model.
“A WCD approach, to my mind, begins from a position that women’s lives are a glorious tangle of production and reproduction, not only impossible, but also undesirable, to untangle totally.” (8)
The many examples of women’s agency which follows help to create a linear argument for WCD. By using real-life examples of how the strategy has been implemented by women, the model becomes more tangible. Bhavnani takes the abstract idea of Women, Culture, and Development and shows how women have transformed it into a living concept.
Using Cultural Understanding
I saw this article as a reminder to be aware of the help that is needed by women in “Third World” countries and listen to their stories in order to figure out an way to insert ourselves into a situation. Rather than formulating a plan from afar, an individual needs to be fully invested in the culture of the country s/he is trying to help. It is necessary to keep in mind an understanding that Western ideas of development, such as education or schooling programs, may not be the best way to help women of another country. These women may need to focus on physical labor to further improve their lives, and therefore healthcare is more important to them.
Overall, the emphasis of a Women, Culture, and Development model is placed on seeing culture as a lived experience. “…the centrality of culture —- defined broadly as the lived experiences, and material and emotional contexts that form the fabric of people’s lives…” (14) By saying this, I believe we are never truly able to see what it is like to “walk in someone else’s shoes.” We may be able to see their life and their circumstances, however, we are seeing this through our own cultural lenses. We do not know the culture in which she lives, and therefore we are not looking through her cultural lens or seeing the context of her lived experience.
In my own experiences, I see women become aware of the circumstances of women around them and they are inspired to help others. Yet these women do not know how to make effective change in other countries. They see the harsh conditions that Third World women live in and want to help them, but they do not see that some of these women do not need help, or they do not need help the way that one assumes that help is needed.
I have integrated these types of thoughts in my own understanding of the organizations that I am involved in. I must understand the limitations of my own projects and organizations, not discounting the work that I am doing, but understanding that I am limited and unable to fully “help” any “other” group of women.
As feminist, we need the ability to have compassion for others, but balance that passion with the ability to think critically. According to John Foran, a Women, Culture, and Development model combines critical development skills, feminist studies, and cultural studies. This intersection of knowledge enhances one’s ability to think critically about development and understand the ways that development can incorporate women in an appropriate way.
Bhavnani, K., Foran, J. and Kurian, P. (2003) ‘An Introduction to Women, Culture and Development’, in Bhavnani, K., Foran, J. and Kurian, P (eds.) Feminist Futures: Re-Imagining Women, Culture and Development London: Zed.
Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.
—CHERIS KRAMERAE, A Feminist Dictionary (via christinawgs)
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
—George Orwell, Animal Farm (via adfountain)