Rights Above All?



It is no secret that the majority of girls and women have been systematically supressed and disadvantaged through their lives, and ignored in context of human capital and development all over the world. It is also no secret that the main factor to human development is mostly seen to be regarding economic growth above social and political rights. Although, in recent years it has been labelled smart economics to invest in services targeted young women. Tanya Barron from Plan UK informs that the empowerment of young girls and women, which has been proven to contribute tremendously to development, now has become a fashionable consensus. Plan also emphasise the important angle explaining that empowering girls is about rights, not just economics. The focus on empowerment is not just a means to an economic end, but to substantive and structural change.

Education for girls is receiving much deserved attention, although the economic argument alone carries a great risk. What would happen to girls if the economic reason were challenged by a more effective means to growth? Plan stresses this important question to be considered. Unequal power relations between the sexes are transforming which needs to be recognised under this concept of empowerment, as the traditional relations are producing lower value, violation and denying of girls and women’s rights. Economic, social and political inequality hangs together and needs to be conquered together.

Inequalities concerning gender, social, political and economic rights are not just concerning girls, but boys too. By focusing and distributing rights for young women and girls irrespective of economic growth, all genders will be winners as well as the whole of society. By only arguing for economic growth the outcome is severely unstable. Who are the winners and who are the losers? Depending on the chosen argument used, young women and girls as well as the society could be both winners and losers. What do we chose? 

Anette Stepanoski 


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