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For All Worldwide, A Holistic View

(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)

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Volume II - Chapter Eleven

(Last updated Jan 20, 2008)


Our mammoth. . . world cities (are) black holes strung across the planet -- Pierre Levy

The 1995 World Conference on Women (linked) the lack of equality and well-being among the world's women to population pressures." -- Zero Population Growth

Within a generation more than half of the people living in cities will be squatters. --Robert Neuworth            (On empowering women: <http://www.apcwomen.org/gem/>>

The Brazilian city of Curitiba...(treating) its economic, social and ecological needs as interlinked design elements with synergies to be captured has brought greater progress than most North American cities have achieved through their costly, single-purpose megaprojects. --Amory Lovins et al.

"Women Building Peace: What They Do, Why It Matters"  by Sanam Naraghi Anderlini  explores the transformative nature of women's peace activism - with a focus on women's active participation in efforts taking place around the world, to show how and why women's presence, activities, opinions, approaches, and resilience can foster sustainable peace, providing concrete examples of how to draw on women's untapped potential. http://www.comminit.com/en/node/266748/348 .The Drum Beat -   January 21 2008
: info@peacexpeace.org;  http://www.comminit.com/en/node/118285;
 http://www.comminit.com/en/node/132890;  http://www.comminit.com/en/node/187894

THINK BIG about quality of life on our planet in light of the population explosion! Maybe educating all women is required to solve the ensuing crises. For example, it was reported to the United Nations in September 2005 that nearly a billion poor people live in slums. In chapter 2-17 the rebuilding of rural areas from the bottom up is discussed. A global strategy for rebuilding urban slums is equally important and the peFoople who live there must be empowered to do it, especially women must be trained and empowered. Within a few decades half of the people in the world will live in such urban areas.

As the world's population increases  by two or three billion in the next two or so decades that increase will largely be in the developing world. That will mean a couple of billion more youngsters under age twenty needing education, --not mentioning lifelong education and job retraining needs for all. Aren't global research and planning network essential for planning networks essential for meeting the urban crisis? A billion more births in each of the next several decades? And much of that increase will be in poverty areas of the developing world and in massive slum cities. Can migrants, refugees and those flooding into slum cities be helped by more sophisticated and automated electronic distance education systems? Mitchell (1995)--MIT urban architect--said that designers and planners should consider the kinds of urban lives that people want rather than just focusing on street design and sewer architecture. Rheingold (2003) points out that Mitchell also  "foresaw that  mobile, pervasive and wearable media woud turn future cities into even  more complex information systems than they already are." Forthcoming new technologies are going to change cities as drastically as they change other human institutions, but like the automobile, the change will not improve urban life without better planning now. If urban planners know what they are doing, Rheingold said. "Perhaps we could enable cooperation amplification...the way dedicated dreamers turned computers from weapons into telescopes of the mind."

The solution may be `smart communities' (a term developed in California), smart neighborhoods, smart towns and regions. Eger (2003) has described how cities have been both cursed and blessed as they have been compelled to adjust to the underlying changes taking place in our movement to a global economy and society.  Many cities, he reported, have already died; others are in fiscal and societal decay. Nonetheless cities will continue to be important as engines of civilization in  a knowledge-based, global information economy and society. As cities of the past were built along railroads, waterways and interstate highways, he proposes that "cities of the future will be built along `information highways' - broadband communications links among homes, schools and offices, hospitals and cultural centers. Key to the development of the "Smart Community" effort is the university.  Universities of the Future, like the land grant universities of the agricultural past are now the bridges from an industrial past to an information-age future.  As universities are more interested in learning and linkages, more than other institutions public and private in a community, they are best able to create the vision and the plan and importantly the new "co-laboratories" in a community to facilitate the process of renewal, reinvention and transformation so necessary to success and survival in the new global knowledge based economy and society.  Through the community collaboratory, all the stakeholders can begin the process of creating the 21st century learning society; identify those things most important to the wealth and well-being of the whole, and take ownership of the future of the region.  On technology: <http://www.nature.com/nature/webmatters/grid/grid.html>. Pelton (2004) proposes that mega-cities need to be totally redesigned. Almost a half century ago Buckminster Fuller pointed out that city planning was too local, that planning the city of the future must take global factors into the process.

`FreeWalk' <http://www.lab7.kuis.kyoto-u.ac.jp/freewalk/> is a Japanese social interaction platform where autonomous and human characters can interact with each other in a virtual city. Its capabilities include 3-D chat, Multi-user training and visual simulation, making it possible for a user to participate in a large-scale urban simulation. of a real world city. In time we will have technology for better research and design of cities.

So in this chapter we begin with a peculiar thesis about research for ways to bring adequate learning to everyone in the world. A high percentage of school dropouts are in cities, many of which are not safe, human places to live, especially their slums and a United Nations 2003 study reported that slums are where 40% of the urban population in developing countries live. Also many slum youngsters are afraid to go to school.  Why here do we bring together women, cities and a developing world overpopulation crisis and peace? Because surveys reported in 2003 tended to support the thesis that overpopulation, whatever the political and other implications, was being best resolved by women, especially women in the developing world. Increased empowerment of women through access to learning and information technology, even to radio , developing world women can get the skills they need they need to lead in  the rebuilding of the impoverished neighborhoods and villages.  Already half the world's population lives in cities. The most important contribution to urban blight and environmental misery is poverty. Note, for example, that the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica, for example, offers a Master's degree in Gender and Peace Building that is designed to support women and men who participate in  change  in key issues of gender and peace building. <http://www.comminit.com/universities/uc/sld-2516.html>

As we explore how to provide adequate education for everyone in the world, it is women who are faced with the job of trying to turn their neighborhoods into safe peaceful nd healthy places for their families. And the global-scale research required to plan how to redesign and rebuild human cities must involve many disciplines; for example,  O'Neill (2001) discussed the relation of population to climate change. Note also: <http://www.popline.org> for a vast data base on issues raised in this chapter. Also, mothers are our first and most important teachers. There must be `sustainable urban development' focusing on quality of life .Herz (2004) focuses n the importance of quality education for girls.' On ICT use in urban poverty communities see <http://ijedict.dec.uwi.edu/viewarticle.php?id=57&layout=html>.

What kind of research is needed to deal with a dangerous overpopulated urban slums and other aspects of a crisis in planetary and population management? To ask if transdisciplinary research might better cope with urban misery raises quite different questions from those facing researchers who deal only with hunger and health care. So far also, overpopulation remains a crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East--areas of water shortage--and many poverty areas. A Filipino student, for example,  said: "Our country was such a beautiful, pleasant place to live when we had only sixteen million people. Then the population doubled and redoubled and with so many people we have hunger, poverty, miserable cities, shacks on our beaches. And now the population is going to double again." A woman scholar reported that her physician son had joined a terrorist group because of his despair that only a totally new kind of society could or would deal with poverty and ignorance in terrible urban slums. See: <http://www.edc.org/CEEC/>.

Population studies, women's studies and research on what to do about education for the poor in crowded unlivable cities, such as in Haiti,  illustrate how walls between disciplines are becoming more flexible, if not in some cases breaking down. This chapter and the next three ask if the emerging virtual educational and research institutions in cyberspace might--for crisis research-- link research areas that are not commonly discussed together, such as population, women's and urban issues. Population management becomes essential in all crowded situations, as seen in traffic control, zoning and urban planning, crime and crowd control at rock concerts and much more. Whether or not there is a global overpopulation crisis, there clearly is one in the mushrooming mega-cities of the developing world. Scientists need better ways to read the `vital signs' of a city or a planet, much as physicians need to read the vital signs of a human body. Now emerging technology is going to make that possible, to dissect and analyses a huge metropolitan area's problems, street by street.

Since so many of the developing-world poor are going to continue streaming into ever-enlarging cities, Bhagwati (2003) has called for a `World Migration Organization' to develop better immigration policies and to collect and recommend `best practices.' Migration has `gotten out of hand,' he has said, and there is little humanity can do about it. The central problem, as seen for example in Africa south of the Sahara, is the lack of competent, honest government. Pelton (2004) proposes `telecities' as a mean to decentralize unhealthy and dangerous `megacities. In the "drive for clean air, reducing pollution, and energy conservation" and to enable better coping with disasters.'


Miserable living conditions and family planning are high on the agenda of many women and the most needy crucially need better education. Are their voices weak and their plans not well funded because under girding research, facts and lifelong education of women, especially in the developing world are totally  inadequate?   Should half of the networking to plan global lifelong education (3.10) be women? We live in the world where huge numbers of many women are denied schooling, where as one Asian mnan siad; "women should be allowed to be in only two places, in her home and in her grave."  Huge numbers of women are beaten an abused by husbands, too many have no access to decent health care. So it is not just some men who abuse women, it is global society. 

Researchers now find reasons to hope that humanity may reach a `zero growth rate' by 2040. However, even if the world's population does not reach 8-10 billion, serious over-population problems will remain in crowded countries and their urban poverty areas. So we ask if holistic, transdisciplinary 'big research'--before it is too late--could help resolve what otherwise could become an unmanageable education crisis. <http://www.unesco.org/most/

Women are the key to controlling great population increase that is expected in the poorest areas of the world where the majority is already underemployed and too poor to provide essential health care and education for their families. Food problems and migration pressures will accelerate. (Lutz 1996). Developing countries face a drastic shortage of urban water and already at least a million children each year die because of bad water. (Uitto 2000) and that figure may double within two or three decades. Huge, slum-ridden, dangerously polluted and almost unmanageable cities are already sources of terrorism.  Experts anticipate cities of fifty to sixty million people even if birth rates should greatly decline. (Hager 1997) Poor sanitation, shortages of safe drinking water and safe air to breathe may become additional kinds of `famine.' (Note the 2001 World Bank paper, "Draft Proposal for the Distance Learning Pilot Course for the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities"  Vast slum cities will greatly complicate the crucial question: Can the rapid growth of the world's population be slowed enough to make it possible for everyone on earth to have a good life? Far more than population research is needed to answer population questions, family issues, how to provide good living conditions for all, and for an effective strategy for persuading political leaders to do whatever must be done to provide lifelong education.

It appears at the turn of the century that women are becoming empowered more `than has often been noticed,' for example by the cell phone and internet connections. Now "the Internet can be used to empower those previously bypassed in decision-making processes." (Grieco 2002.) As an example, she reports on the poverty mapping of Chicago and in the United Kingdom. http://www.goneat.org.uk and the value of community mapping to enable the poor to be involved in programs to end poverty. (2.12) How women helped transform one miserably poor country into a wealthy one, see: <http://www.yesmagazine.org/24democracy/pietila.htm>.


Systematic and rigorous scientific analysis based upon solid theory, according to a United Nations University report, shows the need for more accurate and reliable population data, to improve action on population and other global problems. Consistent and reliable data must be brought together in a globally integrated system. It would be possible to `put together a patchwork quilt' of local, regional and national databases. Most data are obtained locally through various kinds of census or birth and death registers. Existing data are not consistently kept in digital or comparable form. Governments gather statistics for their own purposes and often the information is not yet reliable for research. So international standards must be set with globally-agreed upon methods for checking accuracy. Data may be withheld for political purposes, for example when there are disputed boundaries.

However, many countries now have regularly updated electronic data bases of each locality that are put together as a national population registry. The `World Population Estimates and Projections Survey' of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy gathers population data every two years from all nations. The data shows urban and rural population growth and change, including sex and age divisions. There are special reports on data such as child mortality. In turn these are used to prepare figures on school populations, agriculture labor and for many other kinds of studies. This data, when more accurate and digitalized, can be used to study trends. But can it make accurate projections for fifty years ahead in a changing world with so many unpredictable factors? `Where the poor are' is as important as `how many there are.' 

Needed research requires bringing all accurate population information together in a Global Electronic Population Register. This mega-data would need to be organized and managed so it can be used in research on many related problems. Also needed are geographical data, some tailored to specific research needs; historical comparisons for decades and centuries; socioeconomic information on political units and more. The Register could then be used in developing policy on natural resources, in education, in social and gender inequalities, for human rights and for policy and other research. <http://www.ciesin.org>. All such data, however, must be organized in a consistent form worldwide (Clark 1991), for comparative purposes and for linkage to data collected by remote sensing...which can picture urban density.

Satellite imagery is now used to gather and confirm population data, helping create a Global Gridded Population Database and a `computerized map of the World.' It can present precise population detail, especially urban, on square grids. This data is not limited to political subdivisions. It includes information on climate, vegetation and geography. Sometimes satellite data is kept in photographic form or it may also be cast into a topographic framework. NASA provides detailed Digital Elevation Models, but without any state or national boundaries or place names. So satellite data is not reliable for many purposes. The existing `Gridded' Map--from the U.S. National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis--contains information on global population counts and density, land cover and  such research can be expanded with much more. <http:/infoserver.ciesin.org/datasets>.

Cascading hypertext links provide access to data sources, online supporting documentation, and for extracting information. Planning for population issues requires that this data and its effects be linked with information about other social crises. Then information technology can do more than provide political leaders with reliable statistics. Comprehensive, linked data can be used for simulation, modeling and other research for action strategies. Most nations are not fulfilling population reducing commitments they made at United Nations conferences. Other than through such enlarged research strategies, how can political leaders--who do not believe that overpopulation is a high priority or who lack the money and public support--be persuaded to do what is required? Some are giving attention to planning that integrates cities and suburbs (Brophy 2001), but few are yet seeing the value of large-scale planning that integrates cities and regions. (Calthorpe 2000)  Horan (2001) calls attention to the influence of the digital revolution, Sassen (2000) has pointed out that many major cities are evolving into transnational spaces. Graham and Marvin (in LeGates 2000) saw cities transformed into planetary urban networks. Doesn't that require bottom-up, neighborhood by neighborhood solutions?


Can university and other scientists move beyond piecemeal research that tries to deal with each problem separately and develop population and planetary management strategies for all of humanity's major crises? Feeding and providing health care and education for everyone in the world are inseparable from population issues. Population growth is also linked to economic development and to stresses on social and natural environments. A population management design would include regional studies to develop and to strengthen research in and about areas, such as Africa, that currently have a weak research base. (United Nations 1994). Computer modeling can examine population growth area by area, with income and economic prospects, agricultural possibilities, with studies on rural change and urban expansion.

Other interrelated issues help turn population management issues into an education crisis; for example, it is already difficult to keep populations of illegal immigrants out of Europe and the United States. Half the population is under sixteen in the world's most crowded areas. So education, as many school systems disintegrate becomes more difficult and expensive. Many youths turn to crime and terrorism when there are no jobs. There are more unwanted pregnancies, which may revive the overpopulation issue.. There is less food security, health care, housing and economic development, There is more poverty, environmental degradation, resource exploitation and destructive land management. Desertification continues to reduce habitable space. It will require vast research and rigorous scientific knowledge to reclaim deserts and even to rehabilitate partly degraded land.

What is to be done and who is to do it? What scale of research is needed in the `education for all' context? The assumption here is that women must assume the initiative here, and that the education of all women is crucial. Many, of course, are working on related issues/On technology empowering women see: <http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol8/issue2/>.The United Nations International Communications Union (ITU) was in 2005 preparing  to establish a network of at least 100 Multipurpose Community Telecenters in Africa . They will be operated by women to enable them to actively participate in the development and decision-making process while supplying services such as public telephone, fax, Internet connectivity, e-education, e-health and government services


The United Nations Population Fund knows some of what needs to be done. The technologies are available. Policy imperatives are defined. There is remarkable agreement on the kinds of investment required for population stability. International conferences, and preparatory research, have laid out plans for:

(a) Sensible and responsible family planning and more education and empowerment for women. Those with at least a secondary school education have half as many children as women with no education. So increasingly, foreign aid and international agency budgets are giving higher priority to efforts to provide education and political rights for women, including the rights to vote, own property, obtain credit, make business contacts and have access to quality family planning.

(b) Better health care for all, especially an emphasis on reproductive health. The UN Cairo conference defined that as `a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being--and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. On women's health see: <http://www.engenderhealth.org/

(c) Social security worldwide so that poor people would not need so many children to care for them in their old age.

(d) Many cities are now dreaming of a new urban environment in the information age. See, for example, the world forum on `smart' communities:  

There is progress. The number of children per family in the developed countries has within thirty years been greatly reduced. The average is still six children per family  in some developing areas where there is great poverty, lack of education and oppression of women. More than half of all developing countries have national population policies. Implementation, however, is a political problem. Again we ask if research could help find better ways to reduce graft and corruption and give more power, education and justice  to all women.?

Arbib (1997), discussed the limitations of the Club of Rome's world models of population problems and trends. Its "Turning Point" computer run pinpointed the dangers of delay in carrying out a global population management policy. That study, now ruled unsatisfactory, decided that a twenty-year delay would result in an additional five hundred million child deaths and a terrifying "abject stupor" for many survivors because of gross malnutrition. Already in 1998, India had to build more than ten thousand new houses each day.  Despite the limitations of that Club of Rome model, it showed that modeling can be helpful for political planning.

Digital maps and better modeling of global population trends can help researchers study where additional billions of people will probably so that lifelong education can be provided there. Digital mapping can also help to examine the impact of so many more people on the geosphere/biosphere. It can help show how rising ocean levels will effect the high percentage of population living near seas, how they will be affected by changing weather and rainfall patterns and how agriculture is likely to be affected by acid rain and other pollution caused by many more people. Arbib has pointed out that world modeling must take account of much more than how human beings--populations of organisms--react with one another and their environment. Simulations are essential for policy development and to define research parameters. How will birth rates, death rates and government policies--as on pollutants in the atmosphere--affect and be affected by population management policy? Only some of the variables, Arbib says, can be described in a satisfactory way. That, he says, is why the political system of India has not accomplished a really effective birth-control program in villages. He warns therefore that the most helpful models may not--for some time at least--be computer models. They may more likely be "paper and pencil models of the way people's attitudes change."

Global-scale research might also seek to model how the attitudes of politicians towards global lifelong education must change, and the attitudes of researchers themselves as they move into cyberspace. Wilson (1998) has said that the fragmentation of knowledge and research and the resulting chaos "are not reflections of the real world but artifacts of scholarship." He said that the failure of disciplines to work together, and the `attitudes' of researchers, have helped create crises in modern society, rather than helping to solve them. The greatest enterprise of the mind, he said, has always been the attempt to link the sciences and the humanities. He illustrated by pointing to separation that must be bridged between environmental policy, ethics, biology and social science to end governmental frustration and public confusion on what to do. Yet these four research areas are separate in the attitudes of scholars. The disciplines have different "languages, modes of analysis and standards of validation." The key to essential holistic research, he suggested, is `consilience,' that is a `jumping together' of knowledge through linkages across disciplines. This transdisciplinary consilience begins to be evident in peace studies, women's studies, in population studies, in black studies and urban studies.

Most real world problems exist, he said, at the point of intersection of research on ethics, natural and social science and policy. "Yet virtually no maps exist," Wilson said, to guide us as we travel from environmental (or in this chapter we would say population management) problems to the need for soundly based policy, to morals and ethics, "to a grasp of social institutions as the productions of biology, environment and history." Wilson then explored history of science and thought to explain the attitudes of scholars and the architecture of scholarly disciplines that makes it so difficult for contemporary crises to be resolved.

The foundations of research and of education are shaken by the arrival of information technology, cyberspace and more new technology to come. Computer modeling can explore new and different research strategies, possibilities for consilience and new architecture for academia. Social crises may provide the motivation and women the leadership for changing the tradition of breaking knowledge into smaller and smaller fragments. Perhaps no mega-research can in our time restore the unity of all knowledge, but it can find new means for dialog and collaboration. For a time this may take place only at the fringes of the university, in areas like women's studies. The various disciplines and narrow specializations will surely continue and perhaps only slowly will be integrated into larger research strategies where each has a place. Scientists' funds are so limited, or they are so swamped with data that little time is left for thought about ethics, philosophy, social crises and the coordination of many disciplines.

Wilson points out that most scientists and scholars "simply do not have the requisite intellectual energy" and "training they need to travel to the frontier." Fragmentation, "atomization afflicts the humanities and social sciences" also. "Professional scholars have little choice but to dice up research expertise and research agendas among themselves." This is complicated by postmodernist philosophers who believe there can be no firmly grounded, agreed-on ethic, no firm foundation for establishing the truth (of population statistics?), that all so-called knowledge is twisted by the culture and prejudices (attitudes) of the scholar.

Such passing fads and attitudes, Wilson said, will not in the end handicap those who seek to bring new order into human thinking. Indeed, they can help reveal the dangers and limitations of any efforts to impose order. How better can humanity strengthen a collective, collaborative quest for consilience than to have to defend it against hostile forces? Wilson has predicted the emergence of two great branches of learning: natural science and the humanities/creative arts. He suggests that fragmented social sciences will "split within each of the disciplines, one becoming continuous with biology, the other fusing with the humanities." The humanities, embracing history, philosophy and ethics, comparative religion and interpretation of the arts, he says, "will draw closer to the sciences and will fuse with them."

Wilson's analysis suggests ways to create whole new procedures for research on cities, education and women, as well as to create blueprints, knowledge maps and models of possible new research strategies for the virtual global lifelong education system in cyberspace. Much of this research must be done by women, for women. Computer modeling can also be used to gain understanding of attitudes of scholars and politicians, past and present. Modeling can explore other difficulties that stand in the way of more comprehensive population management research. Ultimately such research may require consilience among many disciplines, government organizations and action groups. We cannot discuss all that here, so we will briefly turn to crowded cities.


The United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (Habitat) established a `Global Urban Observatory' for monitoring the situation of major cities. This networked multilevel system was set up to be composed of linked local, regional and national urban observatories as well as national planning agencies, university departments, and grass roots organizations. The plan was for data to be organized around categories suggested by the agenda of the 1996 United Nations Habitat conference at Istanbul; that is, around future planning for cities where a population crisis is likely to become most serious. One of the Observatory's major objectives is to study how data can best be used in urban policy planning. Software was to be provided to each partner organization to guarantee comparable data recording. The information would be shared and joint work accomplished through computer networking and new types of organizations.

A large-scale research design might explore the idea of urban (and rural) female empowerment through inter-linked population and `community health' councils in every urban neighborhood worldwide. All such groups could be linked with researchers through the Internet. They could together share ideas for solutions to urban problems and build political support for legislation to carry out population management plans there. Such local and regional groups could also be networking partners in the development of better and more comprehensive action strategies. One group, discussing this idea, concluded that effective political action on population issues is likely to happen only if university and networked  women (11.7) in neighborhoods take the initiative. (Hartman 1995). There are signs that the beginnings of that are underway. What scale of research can help?

A pilot course on clean air for Asian cities (Riegler 2002) included a proposal for a module on `Air Quality Monitoring and Modeling'' and surveillance. The training would include city-specific plans, information about helpful technologies, and a Clean Air Web Site to promote information-sharing, best  policies in on air quality management and the site would include distance learning courses. to enhance local knowledge about air pollution. Such projects involving industry, government agencies, international non-government organizations and others suggests a model for facilitating action in many kinds of environments .


A research strategy for population management can also examine the countryside, and then the total human ecology of the earth including the oppression of women as occurred in places like Afghanistan. It can examine plans for housing, medical care, education for all, industry locations, highways and transportation, and ways to reduce rural to urban migration by making rural areas more attractive places to live. The technology and research capabilities now exist to make possible a global strategic population plan and a `whole earth' plan for the health of the planet itself as well as the health and prosperity of the human community. <http://www.vision-nest.com/cbw/Quest.html

A United Nations University research project has asked for the study of possible programs of population dispersion to slow urbanization. Modeling could examine the consequences of locating new industries and cities--not on prime farmland as often happens--but on deserts or on other land that is less useful for agriculture. Modeling might be used for a more careful examination of the controversy over housing more people in skyscrapers, or near their work, or on artificial islands. Futurists have many such ideas that could be simulated to discover their consequences, using data from as many disciplines as possible.

Complexity theory now enables modeling that takes unexpected events into account, such as the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC. Can research and modeling of individuals, groups and population history provide more insight into how attitudes, motivation, vision and behavior can be changed? New models for mega-cities would need to take account of complexities such as increasing water shortages that "may be the defining issue of the twenty-first century." (Rosengrant 1997). There are developing world cities where water is turned off for much of the day. Solutions to such shortages are often prohibitively expensive as more and more people move in from the countryside.


The experts know how to reduce births so as to resolve the population crisis, but religious and political foot-dragging keeps it from happening. So we conclude with the proposal that adequate population management and political action may not happen until women mobilize and empower the education of all women. In fact, much that has been accomplished is the result of pressure and work by networks of women's organizations such as a women's caucus representing 400 organizations from 62 countries at the Cairo United Nations conference on population; and the expansion of networking which followed the 1995 Beijing United Nations women's conference. Electronic networking has made it possible for women to do now what had never before been possible. Rather than urging research and action they can undertake it. Many have in their hands the technology that can help women find their own solutions to problems like family planning and adequate learning opportunities. In the process they can undertake research on how to help empower a billion impoverished, illiterate and excluded women. Educated and financially secure women have fewer children. So a first step in population management is to educate all the world's women. That begins to happen even for segregated women through global distance education. (17.4)

Women's issues, urban issues, education issues and population management, however, should be placed in the largest possible research context. (Jahan 1995). A major problem is the motivation of politicians and securing for women the rights--which paternalistic societies have obscured --which the major religions authorize for them. Some religious groups, for example, have accomplished radical behavior change by educating poor women and by sending privileged women to live for a time in slum homes where there is sickness and hunger. Women have played powerful roles in contemporary struggles for racial justice and human rights. However, women have never before had research tools powerful enough--and available to them--to accomplish major changes in population policy and family planning laws and programs, as their Internet networks now make possible.. Women are now often less bound by the traditions and research customs that fragment knowledge. They more often find it easier to work together across disciplinary lines.

Saperstein (1995) proposed that social scientists could also learn something about dealing with complexity from physicists who are concerned with the creation and dissolution of order. So maybe what the physicist knows, and the biologist, and many others can help women lead out in the large-scale research and action to resolve potential population  and other crises. On women in Africa and technology: <http://www.wigsat.org/ofan/ofan.html>.

Those who doubt that holistic research for--or especially by--women can help, may need a reminder from Alan Kay who said: "The computer revolution hasn't really started yet." As to increase incomes of the urban poor, not much will happen until women take into their hands the that is becoming available to them. A needed step is more adequate comprehensive research design for dealing with the family planning crisis--holistic to take culture, religion, politics and all into account--can be created if a consortium of women in research universities undertake significant initiatives. Perhaps the next chapter, on providing more income, is a place to begin.

But more encouraging, for example, is the fact that half of the online students at the Open University of Hong Kong are women. That institution draws upon courses from many parts of the world and offers the pertinent ones to more and more of China and Asia. It has relations  for credit transfer agreements with, for example, with WADE (the World Alliance in Distance Education. It is committed to the goal of doing its part to provide education for everyone on the planet. It enables women to complete programs at their own pace, in their own chosen location. And, most important it provides support to online students, --tutoring, online and telephone connections and study centers. Its courses must be presented in a way which facilitates study by students who are at home or otherwise separated from teachers and who must study independently and have limited time each day to devote to self-study. (Tan, online correspondence  2001)

We suggest that here is the beginning of a model for what can be provided for poor women when every neighborhood school becomes a learning and support center to make all needed kinds of education and resulting empowerment available..An example of services and action see: <http://www.globalaction.org/do/Home>. A workshop on gender, media and development, September 2003 in Vietnam, analyzed the role of the mass media in propagating gender equality and to explore models and experiences that promote the active participation of communities in their own development, with recommendations on how to use the mass media become a tool for women's empowerment in Asia.
> http://www.comminit.com/strategicthinking/st2004/thinking-497.html

Return to Chapter 2.10  |  Go to Chapter 2.12

Bibliographical Notes

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<http://www.un.org/partners/civil_society/m-women.htm> . <http://www.girlseducation.org/>, 

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