Gender Disparity in Togo: Celine's Story

Gender Disparity in Togo: Celine's Story
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     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.14

     challenging words:    elimination, sensitize, outdated, coup, happening, affecting, earning, enrolled, latrine, yearly, provided, outlook, prenatal, economic, university, traditional
     content words:    West Virginia

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Gender Disparity in Togo: Celine's Story
By Jennifer Kenny

1     Do you go to school? Are you home-schooled? Think about what you are learning. In the twenty-first century, do you expect all learning is the same? Should girls and boys have a right to an equal level and quality of learning? Do you think in this day and age that's an outdated question to even ask? Perhaps in a well-developed, modernized nation it is. However, that's not the case all over the world.
2     Celine, for example, lives in Togo. Togo is located in western Africa. According to the CIA, the population in Togo was just under six million people in 2008. It is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia. More than half the people live below the poverty level. Many are hungry, if not malnourished. The economy is basically agricultural. Only half the people have access to safe drinking water. Virtually no repairs have been made to the infrastructure of the drinking water system in around fifteen years. In addition, medical help is lacking. There are estimated to be only about four doctors for every 100,000 people. This affects prenatal care, child care, and the treatment of diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. The road system is decaying. The country has a gigantic foreign debt.
3     To understand what is happening in Togo, it is important to understand some of its political history. In 1963, there was a coup d'etat of the government. In 1967, the person who claimed to shoot the previous leader became the president. He reigned until his death in 2005; his son took over immediately. With a rushed election that same year, and a given conclusion of who would win, there were violent, deadly protests. Finally, in 2007, free elections were held. However, the new government is left holding a full plate of problems. With free and fair elections, though, international aid is starting to once again enter the country. Togo is considered to be on its way to democratic rule.
4     What does all this mean to Celine and others in Togo? Most communities in Togo are quite traditional. While living in poverty, many things have not changed. This includes the education of the children and the opportunities for adults. In general, there's an incredible level of gender disparity even in these modern days.
5     Traditionally, boys were educated in the hopes of earning more money. Many families believed it was unnecessary to educate their daughters because the girls would grow up, get married, and only be useful to the husband's family. Girls are expected to marry and have children very early. Obviously, this attitude has created a huge level of gender disparity.

Paragraphs 6 to 13:
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Extended Activities:

1.  Create an historical time line for the political history of Togo for the last fifty years.

2.  Imagine you are donating money to aid children in Togo. How would you want the money spent?

3.  Research the connection to farming and education in other countries.

4.  What are two traditions in the culture of Togo? Explain their significance.

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