» Archive for: May, 2013

downloadIf girls say what city-planners already have in mind, perhaps, then, there is no reason to listen to them?

Attending a research presentation in Toronto on a study of ‘Adolescent Girls’ Views on Safety in Cities‘ (part of the ‘Because I’m a Girl’ campaign of Plan International) I learnt that adolescent girls in Cairo, Delhi, Hanoi, Kampala and Lima wanted things like ‘safe and reliable transport’, ‘formalise public transport systems, including having buses pick up and drop off passengers at authorised stops’, etc. The presenter proudly mentioned that this is also what city-planners wanted and for her this finding underscored the importance of ‘listening to adolescent girls’.

There I got confused.

If the very meticulous methodology used in this study produces little more than what city-planners already have in mind, then, what’s the added value of listening to ‘girls’ voices’? Isn’t the point of such research to bring out girls’ lived experiences, their subjective understanding of danger and safety in cities, etc? And isn’t the role of the researcher one of teasing out how these experiences are shaped by the intersection of relations of gender and generation (to name just two) and stress the particularity of adolescent girls’ standpoint, rather than emphasising convergence with city-planners perspectives?

Posted by Roy Huijsmans


lonDespite much research on ‘youth citizenship’, relatively little attention is paid to the role of sports.

Simon Creak’s entry on New Mandala about the role of Indonesian youth in the 2011 SEA Games is just one example of the potential of studying the role of sports in fostering young people’s sense of belonging.

For those keen studying the relation between ‘youth citizenship, sports and community development’ Longborough University (UK) may be an interesting option, not in the least since it advertises a funded PhD position in this field.



Stuck as intern. Internships used to be a stepping stone towards paid jobs, but the number of professional interns is growing.

A six week, unpaid internship at the United Nations (UN) offices in New York, which was mistakenly put up for auction in late April 2013, sparked debate about the class-based privileges underpinning such internships, after a college student bid US$ 22,000 at this ‘unique’ opportunity. As Al Jazeera noted in an opinion piece, not only do unpaid internships privilege more affluent youth who can afford to “invest in themselves” through unpaid work, the broader message in this case seems to be that “work is not labour to be compensated with a living wage, but an act of charity of the powerful, who reward the unpaid worker with ‘exposure’ and ‘experience’.”

Unpaid internships

Amidst high global youth unemployment levels and an ongoing economic downturn, internships and apprenticeships have become an increasingly familiar experience among young graduates in Europe, the United States and other industrialised countries. Ideally, internships and other work experience programmes are designed to equip young people with on-the-job training, useful contacts, and valuable work experience. But what is the value of these internships in an increasingly competitive labour market?

For some graduates, internships have been a way out of a common ‘Catch 22’ situation that many young jobseekers find themselves in: they cannot gain work experience because they have not landed their first job, and they cannot find their first job because they do not have sufficient work experience (ILO 2012) .

Professional interns

But while internships could increase young people’s chances of getting a job offer, some recent reports and news articles point to drawbacks associated with contemporary internship practices. First, there is the issue of low-paid or unpaid internships, and second, the phenomenon of “professional interns”: young graduates who experience a continuous cycle of internships and are unable to move into more stable and better paid work.

A recent article highlights this phenomenon of ‘professional interns: graduates in their late twenties, often with debts from university but without a decent income or clear career prospects, for whom internships seem to resemble an ‘employment trap’. While the phenomenon of professional interns may indicate a mismatch between youth aspirations and actual labour market realities, there are also concerns that companies use interns as cheap labour, without providing them with proper training, guidance and income.

Contemporary education and labour policies, often informed by a neoliberal logic, hold individual youth and their families responsible to invest in education and training in order to improve their ‘employability’ in the job market. The rise in internships reflects these broader changes in the global economy and the nature of work. For many students, the pressure to find an internship is part of their education experience. Their ability to find internships and jobs is often explained in terms of merit and personal efforts, rather than an outcome of broader socio-economic conditions. But the popularity of internships should not mask the fact that a huge number of jobs needs to be created in the next decade to provide enough employment for the growing population of educated youth. Internships are not an alternative for decent jobs.

So what will happen once the economy recovers: will these professional interns be able to move into more stable employment, or will they be replaced by the next group of fresh university graduates?


Guest contribution by Suzanne Naafs. Suzanne Naafs is a postdoctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, where she is conducting research on youth and educated underemployment in Indonesia. She completed her PhD at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague in 2012 with a dissertation on youth, gender and aspirations for work in urban Java.



A declining Child Sex Ratio constitutes a violation of the fundamental rights of girl-children.

This includes the right to survival, protection, development and participation of children, all key principles of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child to which India is a signatory. Social pressure on women and couples for producing sons combined with easy access to technology for sex-detection has created a market for sex-selection, at times further stimulated by medical professionals.

Commitment is key to improving child sex ratio. And this is deliberately deviated by State parties, Society, Community and Family as well. Presently, the all-India child sex ratio is 914:1000 (girls:boys), a sorry state of affairs, and in need of immediate intervention. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is now planning to develop a national plan to combat the draconian disease- the attitude against girl child. It is interesting to note that some States in India are far ahead in implementing schemes to address girl child issues. Some of the State initiatives are given below:

KARNATAKA: Bhagyalakshmi Scheme :  To promote the birth of girl children among families identified as below poverty line and to raise the status of girl child thereby raising the status of the society, Karnataka has implemented financial assistance through Bhagyalakshmi scheme for girl children born in the BPL families from 2006-07 subject to fulfilling certain conditions.

ANDHRA PRADESH: Indiramma Amrutha Hastham (IAH) scheme, a boon to pregnant women has been launched. It focuses on 20 key interventions and its monitoring.

DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI, SILVASSA: Save the Girl Child scheme, a child protection scheme is under implementation and money is deposited on the girl child’s name, under Profit Plus Policy of Life Insurance Corporation for 18 years and on maturity the beneficiary would receive amount of Rs.3.00 lacks.

save the girl

DAMAN AND DIU: Dikri Development Scheme (DDS) : To save the girl child and increase sex ratio, this scheme was implemented for domicile of UT of Daman. It is proposed to be accelerated & propagated in the community. Incentives to Girl students for pursuing professional courses at graduate & post graduate degrees. Cash incentives are provided to parents of tribal girl students. Cash award to meritious SC/ST Girl Students in Education. Cycles have been distributed to girls.

GUJARAT: The Mukhbir Yojana, which was launched in January to intensify the fight against female foeticide, has now started paying dividends. Decoy/ Sting Operations is carried out in the State. And mandatory quarterly reporting is monitored with regard to transactions.

RAJASTHAN: Rajasthan State Policy for the Girl Child, 2013 is an unique and first time effort and in operation in the state.  The Policy envisions “The girl child shall have an enabling environment for her survival, growth, development, protection, empowerment and participation, for exercising her right to life with dignity and without discrimination.”

ASSAM: Majoni scheme is launched for girl child. Reinforcement of PC-PNDT (Pre conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Technique) act in the State. Initiatives undertaken to Improve birth registration: this will facilitate to estimate the sex ratio at birth: a critical indicator to monitor progress. sessions of the Gram Sabha were also held to discuss and develop plans to address the declining CSR.

NAGALAND: ARSH program is under implementation in the state to reduce malnutrition and anemia of girl child & women, and address gender discrimination in access to health care services. Top priority is given to the health of mother and child through the RCH programme.

SIKKIM: Mukhya Mantri Sishu Suraksha Yojana Avam Sutkeri Sahayoj Yojana for the pregnant women is launched. Equal property rights for daughters along with sons have also been enforced in the State. In order to improve the service delivery by the ASHA, Sikkim has become the first state in the country to give a monthly honorarium of Rs. 3,000/- besides the usual incentives entitled to them.

BIHAR: Mukhya Mantri Kanya Suraksha Yojana. It is also promoting Support Based Schemes in Education like Mukhyamantri Balika Poshak Yojana, Mukhyamantri Paribhraman Yojana, Mukhyamantri Balika Protsahan Yojana, Hunar Scheme, Meena Manch, Sabla etc. To prevent social evils Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojna to improve child sex ratio is promoted.

HARYANA: Jhajjar is the first district to implement Active tracker across India. Active Tracker has been developed. As part of this initiative, login ids were provided to all sonography centers in the district and it was mandated that they register online. All centers were required to fill “Form A” in online. Simultaneously individual logins are provided to district authorities so that concerned authorities can view reports on their personalized dashboards. www.merigudia.com is launched.

PUNJAB: Bebe Nanki Laadli Beti Kalyan as proposed under 13th Finance Commission is under implementation.. The main objective of the scheme is to curb female feticide and to provide better education to girls. Along with this, financial assistance under Dhanalakshmi will be provided to the families from time to time so that they are not burdened with the birth of the girl child.

Guest contribution by Manorama Dei. Manorama Dei is an ISS Alumni from India (MA Governance & Democracy 2007/2008, with an optional course in Children and Youth Studies). She is currently working as Senior Research Officer at the National Mission for Empowerment  Women,  Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India where she works on holistic empowerment of women, especially from the marginalized groups and sections of Indian society. http://www.nmew.gov.in/

International Institute of Social Studies

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.