VOLUME 19 #2

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DEPARTMENTS

Addressing issues of globalization and families

Bahira Sherif Trask
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
Bahira Sherif Trask spoke at the United Nations.

RESEARCH | Globalization is creating an environment where individuals of different cultural backgrounds are interacting with one another as never before, and a UD professor recently spoke at the United Nations about the effects of this experience on families.

With so many people being exposed to different ways of thinking, cultural values and new forms of family life, the U.N. invited Bahira Sherif Trask to discuss her research. The professor of human development and family studies spoke there in early June about how current trends are affecting families around the world and to suggest appropriate policy responses.

As author of Globalization and Families: Accelerated Systemic Social Change, Trask was one of only two U.S. experts speaking at the U.N.’s expert group meeting on “Assessing family policies: Confronting family poverty and social exclusion and ensuring work-family balance.”

The traditional blueprints that many individuals have relied on in their societies are being challenged, negotiated and revised, Trask says. Her research shows that well-designed educational programs can help empower individuals, ensure gender equality and teach people skills that will make them successful in their new environment. She points to examples from around the world where new initiatives are preparing individuals to be better able to function in a globalized world.

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“In Bangladesh, several nongovernment organizations have helped to revitalize and reorganize schools, teaching rural girls skills that not only help them attain jobs but make them more marriageable,” Trask says. “Moreover, poor parents are being given cash stipends in order to encourage them to allow their daughters to attend secondary schools."

It is imperative that greater cultural understanding be promoted in order to improve the lives of all individuals and their families, she says, adding that while there is much debate about the negative impacts of globalization, more focus should be placed on the notion that globalization could also lead to greater social justice and equality.

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