LitCam Conference 2013: „Literacy and Gender"
The 8. International LitCam Conference "Literacy and Gender" took place on Monday October 7th and Tuesday October 8th in cooperation with KfW Stiftung and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Frankfurt.
The conference started with a greeting by Dr. Ulrich Schröder, chairman of the board of KfW Stiftung, and Juergen Boos, director of Frankfurt Book Fair. Karin Plötz, director of LitCam, introduced the conferenc's theme to the audience.
The Keynote was presented by distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies and popular author, Michael Kimmel. In his amazing speech Kimmel explained why women make gender visible but most men do not know they are gendered beings. Lectures on gender are still mostly populated by women. Most men do not see that the concept of gender is as central to their lives as it is to women's lives. It is a luxury not to have to think about race or class. Men should, rather than resisting the transformation of our lives offered by gender equality, embrace these changes. Men should support gender equality, both at work and at home. They should do so not because it is right and just - although that it is true - but because of what gender equality can do for men. Kimmel explained that the boys' problem in the industrialized countries is not a phenomen of gender but a social and sometimes racial problem.
Lack of access
The first panel of the conference dealt with the lack of access to education for women and girls in many developing countries. After the greeting of Dr. Edeltraut Leibrock, member of the board of KfW Stiftung, Ulrike Hanemann from the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning revealed some results from UNESCO studies and presented successful projects for the education of girls and women.
How is the situation of education for women and girls in Pakistan? Shaheen Attiq-Ur-Rahman, Vice-Chairperson of Bunyad in Pakistan, informed that 49,5 millionen adults in Pakistan are illiterate, two-thirds of them are women. Two-thirds of the children who do not attend a school are girls. With a lot of small but successful projects, Attiq-Ur-Rahman supports girls and women in their struggle for education. The following panel discussion with Dr. Salah Sabri Sebeh, Director Caritas in Egypt, Adote-Bah Adotevi, Chief of Education Sector, UNESCO Dakar, Ulrike Hanemann, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, and Shaheen Attiq-Ur-Rahman discovered, that although some problems as well as the solutions to them are similar in different regions, for example in Egypt and Pakistan, but that projects like the ICT, which was started in Senegal by the UNESCO recently, would be difficult to establish in Pakistan or Egypt. Ulrike Haneman stated, that one has to convince the community, especially its male members, to be successful with educational projects for girls and women.
Why are boys falling behind in some industrial countries? This question was discussed in the second panel of the conference in Frankfurt. But there are not only western countries in which boys fall behind girls at school: there is also Brazil. Timothy Ireland, UNESCO Chair in Adult Education, University of Paraiba in Brazil, presented the current situation in Brazil and the growing rates of girls finishing the system of education with high degrees. In the following panel discussion, Jean-Piere Jeantheau, ANLCI Frankreich, Jonathan Douglas, National Literacy Trust Great Britain, Timothy Ireland and Michael Kimmel agreed, that the social and cultural environment contribute a lot to the misachievement of many boys in school in their countries (France, Great Britain, US, Brazil).
Creative writing workshop in Egypt
The closing panel "Literature, Literacy and Gender" started with a speech by the Indian publisher, author and women's activist Urvashi Butalia, who presented some stories about Indian women who learned to write and become authors. The following talk was at the same time the kick-off of the project by the KfW Stiftung "Cairo Short Stories. Supporting young writers in Egypt".Kristin Zeier, Deutsche Welle, moderated the talk between Urvashi Butalia, Dr. Bernd Siegfried, managing director of KfW Stiftung and the appointed head of the workshops in Egypt and author Abbas Khider about the influence of literature on literacy and gender. The participants had the chance to exchange their experiences and network at the Get-Together.
Patron of the conference is the former UN delegate, Human Rights activist, author and Indian politician Shashi Tharoor.
©: KfW Stiftung, Photo: Jens Steingässer