28 April 2011

The Guardian 2011 Journalism Competition: The Challenges Faced by Disabled Girls (worldwide)

Post date: 28 April 2011
Deadline: 13 June 2011

Many crucial issues facing the developing world are often overlooked or underrepresented by the media. The Guardian International Development Journalism competition 2011 aims to highlight some of them. We are searching for enthusiastic writers who want to demonstrate their journalistic abilities by examining these issues.

The competition, in partnership with a group of UK-based international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – is now in its fourth year, building on the successes of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The NGOs are Marie Stopes International, CARE International UK, The David Rattray Memorial Trust (UK), Direct Relief International, FHI, International Childcare Trust, Malaria Consortium, Plan UK, and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

The competition is sponsored by Barclays and GlaxoSmithKline.

The challenge is to write a feature of 650 to 1,000 words by 10 June on an aspect of global poverty that deserves greater media exposure. The 16 best writers (eight amateur, eight professional) will be selected from a longlist of around 40 entrants, all of whom will have their articles published online at guardian.co.uk.

The 16 finalists will be flown to a developing country to research a new assignment. The finalist pieces will then be published in two Guardian newspaper supplements, after the announcement of the two winners at an awards ceremony in November 2011.


To enter the competition, you need to write a 650-1,000 word feature on one of the 16 themes listed below.

The page for each theme listed tells you more about the subject, giving background information on the theme, guidance on writing about it and some initial links to help your research. This is the brief.

Make sure that you follow this brief. You can interpret the theme in whatever way you think fit, but should not veer off the subject or your entry will not be accepted.

# Aids orphans and the challenges they face
# Can empowering women end poverty?
# Can long-term disaster recovery lead to improved healthcare?
# Early marriage: what is the right age for a girl to become a woman?
# Emergency Preparedness - how do prepared areas fare better post-disaster?
# From small farmers to big levers: how can smallholders best link up to improve their livelihoods?
# Gender inequality and limitations in impoverished areas
# Increasing access to anti-malaria drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. The role of community change agents
# Long-term disaster response in impoverished areas
# Making the small scale businessman a behavioural change agent for malaria control in Africa
# Socio-cultural barriers to family planning
# The challenges faced by disabled girls
# The impact of unsafe abortions on MDG 5: Improve maternal health
# What are the challenges and the long-term importance of providing shelter after emergencies?
# What role, if any, should the private sector / multinationals play in development?
# What stops children in rural areas going to school?
# Why are Neglected Tropical Diseases neglected?
# Youth unemployment: what future?

The challenges faced by disabled girls

Disability is defined by the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as "long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder [a person's] full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others."

Other definitions of disability distinguish three levels at which an individual might experience disability: impairment, functional limitation, and restricted participation. Such definitions emphasise that restricted participation in society might result not only from impairments or functional limitations, but also from contextual factors such as: buildings and transportation that are not accessible to persons with mobility limitations; social stigma; or policies, written and unwritten, that exclude children with disabilities from schools or other settings.

In both developed and developing countries, data on the incidence of child disabilities are rarely available. General household surveys or censuses of all households in a community that include general questions about both adults and children with disabilities have also been found to inadequately identify children with disabilities. Research suggests that children might be overlooked on surveys that do not ask specifically about them. Female children and children of low socioeconomic status might be particularly under represented by this type of general questionnaire.

The Millennium Development Goals have the potential to make life better for billions of people in the world's poorest countries. However, disability is currently not included in indicators and targets set for the MDGs and disabled people are often excluded from international and national poverty reduction plans. Furthermore, people with disabilities and their families are often excluded from governments' agendas for children even though the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) makes a clear statement on the rights of children with disabilities.

It is argued that disabled women and girls experience double marginalisation on account of their gender and impairment. In patriarchal societies, the social role of women and girls is often primarily defined through motherhood and homemaking. With few opportunities to fulfill those ideals, disabled women and girls will often experience more discrimination than non-disabled peers.

Girls who are disabled are especially vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse, especially if living in institutional care where there is a lack of oversight and they are seen as easy targets. Their low value as girls and being disabled make them doubly discriminated against. Cultural beliefs regarding HIV/Aids and virginal rape; and the perception that disabled girls are asexual, compound this further. In addition, negative cultural attitudes and stigma limit expectations of, and opportunities available to, children and youth with disabilities leading to exclusion from education and employment and an increased risk of turning to begging and becoming a street-child – bringing even more risks.

Despite the growing evidence of marginalisation experienced by disabled girls and women, general development programmes rarely include them.

So what are the challenges disabled girls face in accessing their rights under the UNCRC and UNCRPD. To what extent are NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and national governments meeting the needs and rights of disabled girls? Are all the different types of disabilities under the UNCRPD being equally included in development programmes and policies? To what extent is gender exacerbating the issue? How can the larger development community ensure that it includes disabled girls within its own policies and programmes?

Using your own research and investigative methods, you are invited to delve into these issues and make the stories behind them come to life. Make sure you use facts to support your article.

How to enter the awards

All you need to do is write a 650-1000 word article on an aspect of global poverty covered by the themes set, and upload it using our online entry form. The entry period closes on Monday 13 June 2011.

FAMILIARISE yourself with the Guardian and guardian.co.uk. Online, the Katine and the Global Development section of the site provides a good template of the sort of writing the Guardian values.

Judging criteria What the judges will be looking for, particularly in the first round of the competition:

• Clear and concise argument based on the chosen theme
• Supported by factual evidence
• That your piece meets the theme brief
• A piece that "lives" to the reader. Does it feel real? Are the people or situations described vivid and believable to the audience?
• No patronising or sensationalist statements
• Sense that the writer has understood the subject
• Accessible to people who don't know much about the subject.
• Good writing skills, grammatically correct with an absence of jargon
• Readable from a journalistic perspective

Entry guidance

Additional/support material

Please do not send any additional material with your entry


• Familiarise yourself with the Guardian and guardian.co.uk. This will give you an idea of what we are looking for in terms of tone, style and content.

• Numerous styles of journalism – comment, news reports, personal testimonies – can come under the rubric of development journalism. For the purpose of this competition, however, we are looking for features.

• Don't be sensationalistic or use hyperbolic, objectifying language. Be measured and objective, even if you are writing about a situation that makes you angry. The experience of one person – however interesting – may not be representative of the situation.

• If you are going to write about something that is very controversial, or has not had any publicity in the UK before, you should be able to back up your facts through at least two unimpeachable sources.

• Although many people will have been to the countries they write about, it is not essential to writing a good piece for this competition. One of last year's finalists compared a situation she knew about in the UK with the developing world.

• Make sure you stick to the theme and keep to the maximum word count of 1,000 words.

• Ask someone else to proofread your story. Typos and grammatical errors are a big turn-off for judges and editors.

• One way in which last year's amateur entries stood out from the professionals was in energy, passion and enthusiasm. If you are a professional, we don't want to read cynicism and world-weariness.

Entry to the 2011 International Development Journalism competition opens on Tuesday, 3 May.

Contact Information:

For submissions: click here

Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk
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