Fifteen blog posts later and wow I have learned a lot. A little too much I would say in some aspects. I really want to take this post to debrief my findings over the past two semesters and denote what I’ve really learned about women all over the world.

I started this blog to continue gaining my “global perspective” about something very close to me, women’s rights. I wanted to explore gender equality through the lends of different women— women from Yemen to Somalia. I wanted to denote their challenges, struggles, obstacles as well as what other countries were doing well and how they could continue their improvement.

The key thing I’ve learned through this blog is education. Education is the key to overcoming challenges across borders. If people learn the effects of Female Genital Mutilation, how to read, contraceptive options, where they can find career and healthcare resources, women and all people who receive access to overcome poverty. An additional year of education adds about ten percent of income to the average persons salary.

Education is something so difficult to come by. Something that requires infrastructure and time, also lots of money. Building education in impoverished areas is hard to start, maintain, and facilitate. Let me get a little more specific. The time women start to lose access to their education is typically around the same time when women marry and have children. One out of every eight girls in Sub-Saharan, South and West Africa are forced into child marriage and one out of every seven has a child before seventeen. By giving these girls a longer time in the classroom, they are better equipped to make good choices, advocate for themselves and other women, support their families, and utilize their resources. I’m not saying if everyone in the world was educated all poverty and instability would vanish, but it would leave more and more people with the ability to prosper and become self sufficient. Education is closely associated with health as well. About 12 million children are malnourished around the world. About twenty five percent of those children could receive more nutrition if their mothers in these poverty stricken nations were given a secondary education.

I was really taken aback during the end of my blogging when I researched the extent of Female Genital Mutilation. There are about 200 million girls effected by FGM, and the practice occurs centrally in about thirty countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. FGM typically occurs between infancy and age fifteen, I don’t wanna recap too much on the procedure side, I just want to touch on the “why” this is happening. As you can imagine, there are no health benefits from the procedure, rather, the immediate complications include: severe pain, excessive bleeding, genital tissue swelling, fever, infection, urinary problems and even death. Looking to the long term, FGM can cause urinary problems, vaginal problems, scar tissue, menstrual problems, sexual problems, increased risk of birth complication and the list goes on and don. There’s also a social tradition in many areas. FGM is considered a part of raising a girl and helping her prepare for adulthood and marriage. Because FGM reduces a woman’s sexual libido, she is believed to resist extramarital sexual acts, more and more people are continuing to conform and  give their children FGM procedures and several areas throughout the world.

Okay so I’ve established the problem with FGM, how are people trying to fix it, well the World Health Organization began addressing the issue internationally in 2008. Every since, the strategy to educate those who practice FGM on its risk has grown. The WHO is focused on creating guidelines and policies to ensure that healthcare professionals can help victims living with FGM in marginalized communities especially where it is extremely prevalent. Also on the research side, learning more about the consequences of the practice and why healthcare professionals in these areas are continuing the procedure. And most importantly, the WHO is increasing advocacy and awareness about FGM. If you don’t read or learn about these impoverished areas, you probably wouldn’t know about FGM in the first place.

Looking back on my blog, I have learned so much about women all over the world and how their day to day lives are so distant from my own. Being a female college student I feel indebted to all of these women I’ve researched about, I feel as though knowing their stories I have a duty to keep telling them, over and over more of these issues I have discussed in each post about women living in impoverished countries are improved. I have faith that with so may people in the international community wanting to make a difference in these areas of the world will help women who are unable to help themselves. I know I will, will you?


Organizations Doing the Work

Post after post I have been uncovering the treatment of women in every corner of the globe on every continent (besides Antarctica). I’ve talked about poverty, Female Genital Mutilation, sexual harassment, domestic violence, lack of access to healthcare and education… but how is the international community working to address the issues and help these women who cannot raise their voices? Well many organizations have emerged over the best few decades to address these issues in dozens and dozens of countries where women are fighting for daily safety, rights, and humanitarian freedoms.

Here are a few well established organizations that are working to promote women:


V-Day raises awareness about ending violence perpetuated against women. This non-profit international organization uses the arts to highlight violence around the world. The stage hundreds of performances of “The Vagina Monologues”, several different documentaries, and workshops all over the world each and every year. They were able to build the first ever women’s shelter in Iraq and Egypt and even participated in the Afghan Women’s Summit. They focus primarily in Middle Eastern and African countries and plan to continue connecting local women’s organizations with female victims. They recently had a campaign called “One Billion Rising”. They use dance, spoken word, films, and rallies to address a new women’s issue each year. This year they are working to hear the voices of marginalized women in their campaign titled “Listen! Act! Rise!“.

Women for Women International

This organization is a non-profit working dedicated to aiding marginalized women in eight different countries. Over 429,000 women have received year long training programs thanks to Women for Women International in the past twenty years. The training program focuses on business, health and women’s rights. The mission of the program is to provide women with the knowledge and expertise to become self sufficient and start their own business, have intellectual conversations about their local economy and manage their own as well as their families health/nutrition.

The organization mobilizes it’s women to champion for women’s rights in their prospective community based on all they’ve learned in the training program. Each of the eight countries has a Women’s Opportunity Center provided by Women for Women to give trainees career resources and supportive communities. $30 donations can support an individual women and her journey through the training program.

Engender Health

Engender Health works to provide advocacy and access to healthcare for women in developing nations. Their work improves clinical quality by training providers to be informative as well as responsive. They are also working to educate men as well as women about the importance of reproductive health. In doing so, the organization is working to prevent gender based violence while promoting gender equality. The organization is also tackling the HIV/AIDS/STD epidemic. By training healthcare providers, improving health services, and advocating for policies internationally that can support the needs of those infected, while also containing the disease/virus. The organization also works to address maternal health holistically by giving health facilities medical supplies and high trained health professional to thus produce high-quality services. The biggest work Engender does is through education. They work to provide resources about being safe and making informed choices.

Engender also has various more specific initiatives in several different countries, here are a few examples. One of their projects, AgirPF, was created to expand women’s access to family planning services in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger and Togo. ExpandFP, is another project that focuses on increasing access to contraceptives, informed choice in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda. Fistula Care Plus, the largest United States government funded initiate dedicated to treatment and prevention of the obstetric fistula. There are several more, you can find more information here.


This one of a kind non-profit is working to tackle poverty and inequality by creating innovative educational programs. Since 1993, Camfed has worked with women in Zimbabwe, Zambia Ghana, and Malawi. About 1.8 million students have been able to attend primary as well as secondary school  because of Camped. Not to mention, about four million children have improved their learning environment because of the organization as well. Camfed is focused specifically on education because of its ability to address maternal morality, decrease poverty, and increase economic development. While working to tackle poverty and inequality, while educating and empowering young women, Camfed has been able to make a true difference in many lives across the African continent.

Although these are only four remarkable organizations, there are many out there specifically dedicated to helping women all over the world. I found these were specific in their own niches and had already done real work to really impact many women around the globe. By donating and spreading awareness about these organizations, we can all help women who are unable to use their voices like we can. We have the power to help.

Sweden (8)

Sweden: one of most highly developed nations in the world that’s consistently ranked one of the best countries to reside.

In a place where the economy is strong and unemployment is low, the social democrats have reigned for decades. With a traditionally mixed economy, high standard of living, one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, Sweden has also become a haven for refugees and asylum seekers. About 1 in every 10 people residing in Sweden are not native Swedes. Now how has this peace and seeming prosperity affected Sweden’s women?

Based on the Global Gender Gap Report, since the documents creation, the country has never appeared less than fourth in the rankings.

On Sweden’s official website, “gender equality is one of the cornerstones of Swedish society”. Sweden’s policies are continually created to provide equal opportunities, right and obligations for everyone in all aspects of everyday life. The government readily champions that everyone no matter their gender had the right to support themselves, balance a career and family life, and perform daily tasks without fear of abuse of violence. 

The cornerstone of Swedish education was built on the Education Act which provides gender equality in all levels of the Swedish education system.

In Sweden, girls overall have better grades in Swedish schools and typically perform better on national exams. Not to mention, a larger portion of those who complete upper secondary education are in fact females.

Several decades ago, men largely outnumbered women in Swedish Universities. Today about two thirds of all university degrees are given to women and in postgraduate and doctoral studies, the split between men and women are about even.

You may be reading this and thinking, okay, this can be true for several other countries with similar systems, why is Sweden’s treatment of women so well revered. It has to do with the extensive welfare system that supports a healthy work-life balance. Parents, no matter their gender, are entitled to share about 480 days (16 months) of paid parental leave whether their child was born or adopted. On average, men use about twenty five percent of those allocated days.

For 390 days, parents are able to receive about eighty percent of their pay, no more than 942 SEK. During the rest of those ninety days, parents are given a flat rate of about 180 SEK. Even those who are unemployed are able to receive some kind of payment.

To go in a little more in depth, about ninety days (three months) of leave are non transferrable to the other parent. Also, one of the parents of the new-born receive an extra ten days of leave in order to ensure they have the time they need in correspondence with the expected birth. Those who are expecting twins receive about twenty days. Adopting parents receive about 480 days between them starting from when they receive care of the child. A single parent is entitled to the same 480 days.

Despite the long way Sweden has come in gender equality, even its government recognizes that pay differences do prevail, and the proportion of women in high-up positions remains weak.

Sweden’s Discrimination Act deals with gender equality specifically in the workplace. The law requires employers to promote equality and pursue the notion in the workplace. The law also prohibits discrimination and requires employers to take cautionary action against kind of harassment. The law was recently expanded in 2017 to include “sex, transgender identity, expression, ethnicity, religion, or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age”. The law also requires employers to treat all employees fairly whether or not they have taken or plan to take family leave.

Much of the difference in pay between men and women can be attributed to profession, position, and work experience. Without those factors being considered, a woman makes about 87 percent of what a man makes, but when you weight those factors, a woman makes about 95 percent. The small difference in pay is typically between blue collar workers. But based on those percentages, there may be work to be done, but clearly Sweden has made significant strides to bring women extremely close to the same paycheck as their male counterparts.

The numbers and statistics backing Swedish gender equality efforts are jaw dropping. The money and time spent to ensure that work in going in to give women fair opportunities whether its in the office, or on the streets. But looking at the situation of Sweden and the various other countries I have blogged about is too wide to compare. But the answer is why? It all boils down to several factors: poverty, stability, and culture. Some societies are built on patriarchal notions, and have a corrupted political sphere which has in turn caused poverty, and lack of food, sanitary conditions, low standard of living across the board.. Sweden on the other hand, has a government focused on gender equality, and that’s what really makes the difference, but that  doesn’t mean other countries can’t work to build values on a smaller scale.

Afghanistan (7)

Afghanistan: a mountainous nation nestled in the Middle East with rampant instability and a fractured economy.

For the past fifteen years Afghanistan has become a place of warfare amongst poverty and discourse. Even though the Taliban no longer have any kind of power over the citizens of Afghanistan, its women are still feeling their presence. The political sphere has become a revolving door leaving Afghan citizens at odds for what’s to come next. With lack of stability and constant warfare, Afghanistan has become a tough place for women to prosper. In other words, they have been feeling the effects of life in a war torn nation with a constant revolving door of political leadership styles.

Research by Global Rights found that about 90 percent of all Afghan women experience psychological, physical, sexual violence, or are forced into a marriage. Most of the time, these atrocities are committed by none other than family members of victims rather than strangers.  Even though people have started to build shelters and safe spaces for women, since the abuse is occurring inside the home, there is little that outside sources can really do to really address the situation on a global scale without education citizens.

Here are some facts… About 460 of every 100,000 births result in death. 85 percent of all Afghan women have no formal education and are illiterate. Each woman tends to have about six children, and about 10 percent of children die before they turn five years old. However, it’s also important to point out that fewer children are dying before age five. This number has decreased by half over the past few years. This recent increase was catalyzed by cleaner water, sanitation standards, and access to electricity.

These statistics in general are actually better than what they were two decades ago. During the time of the Taliban, women were not allowed to work, leave their homes without a male authority present, or seek medical assistance from a male. Women were required to cover themselves even their eyes. Women who used to have high paying jobs, like teachers or doctors, now were begging for any kind of income or working in prostitution. However, women accused of prostitution were publicly stoned in Kabul’s soccer stadium.

However, as I pointed out earlier, women have obtained more rights since the fall of the Taliban. Now, the new Afghan constitution protects both men and women equally under the nation’s laws.

Because most women in Afghanistan are not literate, most of the ongoing activism is occurring from international proxies. However, because Afghan women are unable to advocate for themselves, the government has been able to leverage the political system against them.

For example, during 2009, President Karzai signed laws gravely affecting Shi’a Afghan females. Under the new regulation, women were not able to leave their homes unless they had legitimate excuses. Women were not allowed to work or receive an education unless their husband’s approved their notion. Martial rape would now be permitted and women had less of a right to guardianship in the event of a divorce. The law also made it impossible for women to gain property rights in a divorce situation as well. Although this law only applied to Shi’a women, about 20 percent of all Afghan females, the law highlights how inferior Afghan society perceives women.

Over the past fifteen years, about 30 percent more girls have been attending school, yet about one and a half million girls are still not enrolled in classes.

Looking at the country as a whole, about sixty six percent of all kids enrolled in school are boys, and even in some areas the percentage is as high as eighty five.

The legal age for marriage was recently changed from sixteen to seventeen. But many of the daily tasks women want to perform still must be approved by their male authority figures, husband or father. However, some extremists feel that when women leave the home they are dishonoring their families.

Women in Afghanistan are being bogged down by fundamentalist beliefs as well as the inherent poverty associated with warfare. In the aftermath of the devastation over the past few decades, there is much work needed to improve the living situation for not just women, but all people of Afghanistan. However, by encouraging education, and self sufficiency for women, Afghanistan could look to not only repair its infrastructure faster and build a better Afghanistan, but also a better next generation of tomorrow’s sons and daughters.

Because Afghan women cannot advocate for themselves, it is our job to hear their voices and do our best to understand the issues at hand, so we can work hand and hand with the Afghan government to continue to roll out more and more regulations that will catalyze a Afghanistan. With the help of the international community, we can all work to make Afghan women safer, and present in their society.

Somalia (6)

Somalia: from Italian colony to collapsed anarchy, the Texas-sized mostly muslim country has become accustomed to civil dissidence and war.

Since 2012, Somalia has been inching closer and closer to stability, however, it took about twelve years to restore central authority to the East African nation. The country is often referred to as the world’s original failed state, being that its people were lawless and engulfed in conflict for about twenty years.

In a nation where about sixty percent of its people are nomadic, Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. It’s economy is mainly agricultural and exports mostly bananas and livestock to none other than Saudi Arabia. However, there has been little exploitation of natural gas, oil or uranium since the early 1990’s when Somalia’s economy really took a downturn. But the downward spiraling economy with several food shortages in the past few decades has also affected Somalia’s women.

Somalia has been consistently ranked as one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. Even Somalia’s women minister is “shocked” that her country is only ranked as the fifth worst place in the world for females. In her Opinion piece to the garden, Maryan Qasim even called Somalia a “living hell for women”. She followed up by explaining how heavily war, drought, famine, and devastation have really affected women’s ability to feed their children and sustain life.

She also explained how war isn’t a women’s greatest risk, it’s pregnancy. About one in every fourteen women lose their life due to maternal causes, the second highest in the world next to Afghanistan. This unfortunate related is precipitated by nonexistent prenatal care, medical supplies as well as poor healthcare professionals and Female Genital Mutilation, also known as FGM. This operation destructive involves removing a women’s genital partially or entirely in hopes of inhibiting her sexual feelings. Even worse, about 95% of all women age 4 to 11 are victims of FGM.

Many Somali people are avidly working to educate the public about the effects of FGM, specifically the associated health risks and difficulties it catalyzes during labor. By having more people know about its associated effects, mothers and husbands alike will refused the process on their daughters, and that’s a step in the right direction. Also, only about 1% of Somalian women use contraceptives.

Those aren’t the only problems women are facing in Somalia. About 45% of women are married before age 18. The adult literacy rate for women is 26% compared to 36%, which just proves there is an overall issue in Somalia, not just affecting women, but men as well.

About 237 cases of rape were registered in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu alone. The percentage of primary school participation for girls from 2007 to 2010 in Somalia were about 23 percent for women and 42 percent for men. Also, only 37% of those girls who attended primary school actually took the Form Four exam during 2011 or 2012. However, while this number has been growing, females still make up only 28 percent of all students at that level.

Because of the ongoing conflict in Somalia, women have become the primary pay check for a majority of families throughout Somalia. Women typically can find employment as street vendors, own small shops, but are not taught the skills to run a proper business on their own.

Due to the lack of education of women, and the high drop out rates, have caused high exam fail rates as well as a teaching force of only 15% women, with a majority of that percentage being unqualified for the position.

Several efforts are going on around the world to provide relief to women in Somalia. One organization called Save Somali Women and Children have spent the past twenty years in Somalia’s capital city creating a safe and sustainable situation for women by supporting efforts to overcome “marginalization, violence, and poverty” in their local communities. Because of the wide range of issues Somali women are facing, the organization is encouraging Somali women to utilize their own efforts in conjunction with local, national and international allies to transform their own lives as well as their communities.

SSWC is working to achieve their goals by educating about FGM and provide violence recovery programs to many women within Somalia’s capital. Through media access and global awareness, SSWC hopes to expand their outreach to help more Somali women, even those outside its capital city.

Although there are many issues going on in Somalia, (poverty lack of food, and education for all people), affecting both its men and its women, there are clearly some ongoing problems that are inhibiting women from providing for their families as much as they could. This all starts with safety, and education. By educating Somali women and working to make a safer Somalia, the country itself will not only be a better place for women, but a better place for all.

Nepal (5)

Nepal: with an ancient culture curdled into the Himalayas, Nepal has become reliant on tourism and hikers who wish to visit the world’s highest peak.

In 2008, Nepal became a republic and abolished its monarchy. It has been making strides for the past decade and was even the first Asian country to openly protect gay rights in 2015.

However, in early 2015, Nepal experienced a devastating earthquake which has left a lot of its infrastructure and heritage sites in shambles. The tragedy has highlighted not only the poverty, but the state of its people. Nepal is often referred to as one of the poorest countries in the world with about one out of every four people living below the poverty line.

The recent downturn in living conditions has left Nepal’s women in a state of inferiority worse than ever before. Nepal’s customs and cultural traditions are extremely patriarchal. Men go from son to husband to father and in each role have more power than any mother let alone unmarried woman. And thus, a woman’s rights are limited because of male authority figures set by society.

A woman born in Nepal does not become a citizen unless her male authority figure, father of husband,  permit the notion. Thus without male authority, a woman is less than a citizen. Some families believe that by not bearing a son, both husband and wife will go to hell.

Also, menstral cycle and post-child birth are viewed as “impure” and during this time, a woman is not allowed to take part in any kind of community life. In other words, she is forced out of the family home for that time period.

In 2010, the Nepal government began to permit the selective abortion of baby girls. Further exhibiting the notion, that baby girls are not only less than status of baby boys, but are not any cause for celebration. In the same year, the most common cause of death among women ages fifteen to forty nine was suicide. Many of these deaths are often related to how women are forced to live with her husband for the rest of her days, never to return to her parents, even if the marriage was for purely financial reasons.

Journalist Marie Dorigny reported that about 99% of Nepalese men believe that women have to obey them and about 66% of Nepalese women claim to be victims of sexual harassment, violence (both physical and verbal), and attacks in public and private places.

Although many of Nepal’s gender gap issues are related to the inherent poverty the country has experienced, Nepal’s problems are also inherently engrained in its culture. So how can people like you and I and other governments help fix issues that are inherently apart of Nepal’s societal structure, or rather, what is going on right now to help the women of Nepal?

The Women’s Foundation Nepal has been working towards creating a safer society of Nepal’s women both victims of abuse and poverty. The foundation has been working to create shelter homes which provides education opportunities, skills training, and access to  jobs, something very difficult to come by for the women of Nepal. Not to mention, the women are also given medical, psychological and legal assistance throughout their stay in the shelter home. Besides safe shelters, the organization also trains women in rural areas, usually the most impoverished, legal assistance to many women, and scholarships to poor children who are unable to access an education using their own means. In 1988, this non-governmental and non-profit organization have been working to help Nepalese women.

Another organization called Her Farm is taking a similar approach. The group has a farm in rural Nepal which facilitates a safe spot for women to begin thriving on their own outside the societal norms of their country. By having a farm, the women can learn to provide for their families and be self sufficient. The farm has provided about 300 women with healthcare, and educates about 40 women each day. Her Farm also focuses on women’s health by having a working clinic. There is also a children’s education component to the farm which provides daily english lessons and computer lessons to about a dozen children at a time. The farm in general employs about sixteen women at a time but is working to employ more women.

Although these are only two examples of organizations working to support women in Nepal, there are several other organizations, especially the UN, working to aid the women of Nepal. Because Nepal has an inherent female inferior culture and the work necessary to protect women and provide safe public places. Most of the work being generated to protect Nepalese women is occurring inside the country itself rather than outside organizations. More organizations are working to take Nepal out of poverty in the first place. But the state of women needs to be addressed sooner or later.


Egypt (4)

Egypt: an ancient civilization known for the Nile that divides it’s country into two and the rich history that lies among the Pyramids of Giza.

Despite the Arab Spring in 2011, the arid, Arab nation has still seen political and economic unrest because of its lack of resources and inherent discourse. The civilian’s dissidence and old ways have left their artifacts as well as their female counterparts in the past. According to the Telegraph, “the situation for women has worsened in Egypt since the 2011 revolution”.

The 2015 World’s Women report found that more than 80% of girls between fifteen and nineteen in Egypt have been victims of female genital mutilation (FGM). Overall about 97% of young women experience FGM. In Egypt, about 125 million girls are believed to be victims, and about 60% of all Egyptian women believe FGM should continue. Above all, despite being banned in 2008, FGM has remained a custom and societal norms have strongly contributed to the continuation of this practice.

FGM among several other societal standards have caused Egypt to have one of the largest gender gaps based on the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Gender Gap Report.

According to a United Nations study completed in 2013, about 99.3% of women studied reported that they have previously been sexually harassed. You read that correctly: 99.3%. The same report found about 96.5% of Egyptian women studied were physically assaulted in addition to the sexual harassment they had experienced.

The settings of the sexual harassment encounters reported during the study was anywhere from public transit to malls. Some of the sexual harassment noted in the study was being touched, hollered at, stalked, men exposing themselves, etc. Of the women studied, about half reported experiencing sexual harassment on a daily basis, whereas about 75% reported being harassed once a month. About 85% of all the sexual encounters they had experienced bystanders did nothing to support or stop the harassment from occurring.

Egypt is inherently unique in that its women are similarly educated to its men, and have somewhat equal access to health care, but still are consistently ranked one of the worst places to be a woman. It comes down to economic opportunities, political participation, and what goes on inside homes that the government can’t necessarily control.

Egyptian law began criminalizing sexual harassment in just 2014. Even though its astonishing that this was just recently passed, this law is a major stepping stone to securing safety for women during their day to day lives. However, even though this law has been enacted, doesn’t mean the government will enforce or uphold this law— that will take a few years to determine.

Many women decided to support the 2011 revolution in hopes that its outcome would bring a lift to their position in society. The Thomson Reuters Foundation suggests otherwise. In fact they cite that because of a rise in islamic groups, conflict, and instability, there has been a rise in Discriminatory laws and trafficking.

However, this seemingly step back in progress has not stopped Egyptian women from speaking out and advocating against a lot “anti women” of the cultural practices, especially FGM. Nawal El Saadawi is one of the most widely known female activists in Egypt.

She is a victim of FGM and has since criticized the practice in several of her forty published books. Saadawi is trying to explain to the world what FGM is and how despite a recent law banning its practice, it was only passed because a film was creating showing its brutality.

Despite being put on the fundamentalist death list, and going to jail, Saadawi continues to speak out and show the world what is really happening to women in Egypt.

Saadawi has also spoken out against religious modern fundamentalism and described the islamic veil as “a tool of oppression for women”. Further in her interview she continued on by saying “There should be no veils and no nakedness either. The veiling and the nakedness of women are two sides of the same coin. It is the same oppression at work”. Hearing an opinion like this so staunch and blunt from the an activist in the muslim community was almost unbelievable to me.

Learning about Saadawi and the women of Egypt has opened my eyes to a problem I never knew existed. It parallels many Western countries in that even though there may be equal opportunity in education and health care, there are still several obstacles needing to be climbed, whether its paid family leave or abolishing FGM once and for all. FGM is fueled by money and many in Africa especially are victims of the procedure. By educating ourselves on topics that the media may not cover as readily, we are helping cover the issue; knowledge is power. Because of the film covering FGM, the Egyptian law makers banned FGM, now it’s their job to actually enforce it.

“Men are always fully clothed and go unveiled, Why?!”- Saadawi

Pakistan (3)

Pakistan: a country created out of divine right for Indian muslims has faced turmoil despite its recent birth in 1947. Through its existence, Pakistan has become a religious haven for millions with the largest place of islamic worship in the world.

However, Pakistan, despite its inherent beauty and lush culture between the Indian Ocean and Himalayas, is often associated with the death place of Osama Bin Laden, terrorism, the death of journalists by religious groups as well as the treatment of its women.

Experts supported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation poll, ranked Pakistan the third most dangerous country for girls in the world in 2011. With about 1,000 or more women and girls alike murdered in so called “honor killings” each year and about 90% of all women in Pakistan reporting domestic violence in their homes, the ranking of third worst in the world seems not so unreasonable, but the growing list of staggering statistics only gets longer.

The literacy rate for women in Pakistan is a mere 45% compared to men which have a 69% literacy rate, leaving especially rural women unable to claim their daily justice, or a fair space next to their male counterparts.

Rape victims isolate themselves from society in fear of hurting her family’s honor. As a result, many rapes go unreported, and women instead of shedding light on the issue, augment the reality of the problem at hand and overlook their necessary duty to report the crime.

Welcoming a female baby into the world does not cue excitement in Pakistan, however, the patriarchy within its society has grown alongside the country’s population. Pakistan’s women face a reality far more complex than religious oppression and theocracy. Pakistani women are treated as less than, left uneducated and poor, fighting for respect, not even equality— basic human rights.

Yet, many female rights activists, including one of the most famous teenage champions of equal education have emerged from the Pakistani Swat Valley— none other than heroine Malala Yousafzai.

Malala’s father, Ziauddin, supported her education and was determined to provide her with every opportunity a boy could obtain. As an educator himself, Malala would go to school and be treated fairly under his roof despite her gender.

As Malala grew, so did her love for learning and exploring. Yet, when she turned ten, the Taliban entered her valley and took control (2007). They banned televisions, music and began enforcing public executions to those who disobeyed the new sanctions. Yet matters seemed to only get worse as  in December of 2008, the Taliban prohibited girls from going to school.

The implications and violence continued to spread along her beloved valley, causing Malala to begin blogging about life under the Taliban for the BBC under a coded name, “Gul Makai”. She soon was featured in a short documentary for the New York Times with her father about their life under the Taliban and protecting female rights to an education in Swat Valley.

However, her bravery would prove to put a target on her back. When she was just fifteen, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the face. A bullet would not even silence Malala.

Six months later, after multiple surgeries, months of rehabilitation, she would put on her school uniform and would go back into a classroom. Violence would not prevent Malala from using her voice, it would only help increase her volume.

July 12th was named ‘Malala Day” by the U.N. and has become a beacon for change and hope for vulnerable girls all of the world struggling to go to school. She has continued championing for girls around the world despite tragedy and violence.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”- Malala

She has become a teenage icon for feminists all across the world and even wrote a book about her life in Swat Valley called I am Malala. She has also started a charity with her father called the Malala Fund. In Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Lebanon, and Syria girls typically miss secondary education which led the organization to champion free, safe, and quality education in those areas.

Some Pakistani women like Malala have begun drawing attention to the growing gender gap within Pakistan’s borders— others are afraid of the repercussions. However it’s not just Pakistani citizens realizing these issues within small towns like Swat Valley, it’s you and I and anyone who has access to Malala’s book, BBC blog or New York Times documentary.

As women and men who have access to an education, it is our job to not only learn about the growing gender crisis within Pakistan and all over the world, but also help those like Malala who are working to bring down the obstacles, and allow girls to freely and safely attend school. It is our duty to support activists like Malala in their journey, no matter what may stand in their way.


Honduras: one of the least developed nations in Central America has continued to build its history instability, poverty, crime, and military rule. Its citizens have grown accustomed to gang violence, drug wars, and extortion despite ongoing calls for reform and recent elections. The World Food Bank states about 1.5 million of Honduras’ 8.5 million people face food insecurity.

Today, Honduras has the highest murder rate per capita in the entire world, a rate almost double that of the second highest (Venezuela). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that about 90.4 murders are committed out of every 100,000 people, in other words, every 1,000th person loses their life. A main victim of these murders are tourists, journalists, and most among those, women.

According to the United Institute for Democracy, the number of female murders increased 263.4% from 2005 to 2013— a hike unlike any other country. The United Nation has called the “femicide” rate in Honduras the highest in the world. Every sixteen hours, a woman is murdered. The UN also reported that only about 5% of all sexual violence and “feminized” cases were ever investigated in 2014.

Out of shear trepidation, women emulate submission and inferiority at the hands of gangs who use scare tactics to control their daily tasks such as walking, talking or dressing. Essentially, men perpetrate violence and leave women to cower in the streets in honest fright of being attacked.

According to ABC News, Honduras is “one of the most dangerous places on Earth to be a woman”. The story of female homicides in Honduras came to the forefront of newspapers with the news of Miss Honduras’, Maria Jose Alvarado, and her sister’s murder. Despite her sister’s boyfriend being found guilty for their murders, the government claimed they were involved drug trafficking as justification.

Despite all the violence, the government has been approaching the situation with a “look away” kind of approach. In 2014, the Honduras’ government discontinued an emergency phone line for female violence victims and in conjunction began to decrease funding for women’s rights groups.

Despite the increasing stability of the Honduran government, the state of women exhibit quite the opposite. The societal patriarchy lacks human decency, morals, and leaves me to question how women in Honduras can barely walk the streets without looking over their shoulder, not for a pick pocket, but for an attacker ready to take their lives.

Women receive lower incomes and experience greater food insecurity despite their large role in the agricultural labor force. They are denied from productive assets such as land, technology, and financial services.

I concede this issue is one not to be solved overnight, but it is one that needs to be addressed and discussed as every sixteen hours that goes by another woman is lost the ongoing cycle. So what is being done to protect the women of Honduras today?

Well, the United States has begun letting in large numbers of female immigrants from Honduras due to drug and gang related violence. Organizations like Project Hope have been helping women in Honduras with health awareness and finances since 1993. The program has helped more than 63,000 women and 56,000 children through health awareness programs and microcredit. Women through the organization receive access to essential health information as well as personal savings mechanisms.

The viscous cycle of submission stems from the daunting drug crimes that have taken the Honduran economy down the tubes. In order to further stabilize the country and protect women, the Honduran government needs to start funding not just protections for women, but also even more restrictions for gangs. Yes, this may sound clear and obvious and you probably think they’re already doing this. Sadly, no. Despite the new President’s cries of reform and acknowledgment of these issues, many of the statistics quantifying these issues have not wavered. Yes, the implementation of hands off change may take more time, but why not use our hands to inflict the necessary changes required to protect not just Honduran women and children, but the victims of all drug related crimes, poverty, and lack of food security.

The instability of Honduras has left women in serious danger with no where to turn but to submit to a culture where they are flagged as negligible. Helping organizations like Project Hope and lobbying for more funding and reform is all necessary for catalyzation, but first and foremost, we must all begin by simply initiating conversations about not just the problem at hand but how to solve many of the ongoing Honduran issues, while keeping its women safe. Brining people to the United States certainly would provide a safe haven for victims, but it is only temporary fix to a decade old problem. The corruption, crime and poverty is not going to be fixed by bringing people to the United States. It starts with us advocating for the women of Honduras in open forum and conversation because if we don’t, who will?


Yemen: an Arabic country ravaged by Civil War and poverty with corruption so rampant, it’s people lack the necessary water stores to keep their families hydrated.

Over the past two years, Yemen citizens have manifested battle grounds; it’s people divided on two sides, the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels.  Since Hadi’s presidency, al-Qaeda attacked Yemen

on several occasions, a separatist movement began in the southern part of the nation, corruption has increased as well as unemployment and food insecurity, leaving citizens in a state of division despite their Shia or Sunni background. Yet with more than twenty million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and 8,600 casualties since 2015, the state of Yemeni women lie in the balance.

With limited access to health care, education, and economic opportunities, men perceive and treat women with great inferiority.  In 2014, USAToday ranked Yemen “The Worst Country for Women”. According to USAToday, Yemen’s female to male income ratio is tied for 8th worst in the world at a shear 0.28. Comparing women to men: 74% of men are involved in the labor force compared to 26% of women; 83% of men are literate, yet one in every two women in Yemen can read a book.

These figures display a gender gap so vast— a country in turmoil— with a long way to go. Yet, the education, or even, the literacy needed to propel this gap closer together embodies an ongoing problem; with a very large gender gap in educational opportunities how can Yemeni women overcome the obstacles to combat how they are perceived by their male counter parts?

Before discussing possible solutions, how severe is the gender gap in education specifically speaking? Well, men typically receive on average five to nine years of education whereas women obtain about one to three years. The lack of educational opportunities leaves women with one path: to their homes to take care of their families. However, education is only one issue fostering the gender gap.

UNICEF surveyed human rights abuses in Yemen during 2006. They discovered the magnitude of ongoing child marriage problem within the country. UNICEF found that 52% of all Yemeni women married before age eighteen, and 14% before age fifteen. The United Nations Development program attributed child marriage as a contributing factor to the growing gender equality and reduced maternal mortality. Looking more specifically at Yemen’s mortality rate, seven women die each day due to childbirth complications— overall one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

However, the women of Yemen have overcome their gender gap in several respects by helping the war efforts on both sides as activists, caretakers, photographers, physicians, writers, and every profession in between. Women have led several demonstrations demanding freedom, social justice, and democracy to provide their children—daughters and sons alike— with a better Yemen, however, women remain marginalized and discriminated against.

Safer world,  the Center for Applied Research in Partnership, and the Yemen Polling Center released a report in mid 2017 analyzing how Yemeni women have been affected by the conflict. The report found that despite the devastation and tragedy catalyzed by the conflict, overall women have performed in new roles and feel “empowered” by their new societal opportunities.

World War I provided similar opportunities to American women. During the early 1900’s while men went off to war, women penetrated beyond societal bounds by starting to work in factories. By penetrating beyond their stagnant role as homemakers and entering the workforce, women proved not only were they instrumental in American success, but worthy colleagues. Looking at the Yemen conflict in this light, civil strife may prove to be a stepping stone, signifying the closing of the gender gap in Yemen.

By delivering supplies to war zones, aiding the sick, helping the wounded, manning checkpoints, and even smuggling arms have brought women to the forefront of the conflict.

Today, several organizations dedicate their time and resources to aiding women of Yemen; one of which being Global Giving. The organization works to restructure the patriarchal hierarchy within small Yemen communities through leadership training programs. By overcoming conflict, starting new businesses and going to school, women can help overcome cultural attitudes that leave one in every two women without a book. The organization has already reached about 127,000 Yemeni women in rural parts of the country. Also, Global Giving works alongside tribal leaders to provide trainings and host educational programs, teach entrepreneurship and conflict resolution techniques as well as distributing health messages.

Organizations like Global Giving provide hope and facilitate prosperity in a place where its citizens remain in the cross fire of revolution. It is our job as citizens of the United States to recognize large gender gaps overseas in countries like Yemen, but also, devise solutions and continue to point out these issues despite the ongoing distress within the region. Being an American woman, I cannot imagine living in a war-torn country, let alone a place with a gender gap so vast.