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?