Date: Sunday, September 25, 2005
Speaker: Professor Erika George, University of Utah, S. J. Quinney College of Law
Professor George was formerly a fellow with Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental rights monitoring organization, where she wrote a book-length report presented to the South African Government on how gender discrimination and violence in school impedes the right to education in violation of international law. She has also worked on human rights issues and HIV/AIDS in India. Professor George teaches internal human rights, civil procedure, and constitutional law. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago.
“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy, and sustainable development.” –Kofi Annan-UN Secretary General.
Although education is enshrined as a fundamental right in the international treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 130 million children have no access to basic education. Two thirds of these children are girls. The international community has pledged to achieve gender equality in education by 2015. However, development initiatives to close the gender gap have focused on access to education, not the conditions in which education occurs. My study of schoolgirls in South Africa found that girls of every socioeconomic group and race encounter high levels of sexual violence and harassment in schools. Left unchecked, such gender discrimination serves to create a covert curriculum legitimizing violence and reinforcing inequality. The presentation will explore a conceptual framework with the potential to bridge the existing divide between international development goals and human rights law.
Suggested References and Resources:
Scared at School available at http://www.hrw.org
Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (1999)
United Nations Children’s Fund, State of the World’s Children Annual Reports
Martha Nussbaum, Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (2000)
Pam Christie, The Right to Learn: The Struggle for Education in South Africa (1985)
World Declaration on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs, available at http://www.unesco.org/education/efa/ed_for_all/framework.shtml.
Millennium Development Goals, available at www.un.org/millenniumgoals.