Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

Is the empowerment of women the key to many global health issues? by Jay Clark

Posted by benjamincrookston on August 10, 2008

Many of the world’s developing countries are male dominated. Education and employment opportunities are scarce for women in these countries. They are often treated as second class citizens. However, the countries that are at highest risk of major diseases are also the countries that have the lowest literacy rates of females.

I wonder how much global health would improve if governments and NGO’s focused mainly on empowering women in developing countries. It’s true that women have the primary responsibility of caring for their families, and many NGO’s focus on women’s groups to improve health and education of women. However, in cultures where women are not treated equal to men, the learning of mothers can easily be overcome by the authority of the men. For example, there are programs in South Africa  that teach mothers the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months yet the country has a low rate. This is because men exert the authority they have and dictate the feeding practices of their children. If women could be empowered they would be able to receive better education on how to raise their families, have better opportunities, and be able to put into practice things that they are taught will improve the overall well-being of their families.

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6 Responses to “Is the empowerment of women the key to many global health issues? by Jay Clark”

  1. Allyson Imam said

    I really agree with this. The rights of women are non existent in many developing countries. THe health of families and the health of infants and mothers own health is so important and such a big problem. I think with more rights theywould be able to get the help they need and the help their family needs. I think programs need to focus on educating people about the worth of women and the importance they have on families.

  2. Savanah said

    I think that this would be something very appropriate for your website to talk about. Women and girls need to be considered equals in life, and as my story shows, girls can earn the respect they deserve. A very young girls’ soccer team played in a league that they dominated. The girls won every game, even against other girls that were older than them. Their coach made a bold move and put them into the boys league. This was met with some criticism, but as the girls did exceptionally well, it made people stop and think about what was fair and right concerning girls and boys. People should not be discriminated against based on gender, and these girls overcame that discrimination. Watch the trailer at http://www.kicklikeagirlmovie.com and see what you think.

  3. chads said

    I think it was the 1992 World Health Report that stated that “education of girls is the most effective public health intervention”

  4. Dave said

    isn’t it sad that we’ve had overwhelming data on that, most likely long before 1992, and yet I suspect that it has not been reflected in funding allocations. We have a guy like Greg Mortensen (Three Cups of Tea fame) getting an audience with top U.S. policy makers yet we build bombs instead of schools.

    I do think microcredit’s rise in the last ten years, its emphasis on women’s empowerment, and the high attendance rates at school of the children of microcredit borrowers, will have significant impacts along these lines as those children reach adulthood.

  5. Priscilla said

    I agree with this completely. Empowering women on things such as breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months prior to delivery can help decrease the incidence of diarhhea. If women are able to obtain more education and power, they can help with family planning and the prevention of AIDS. It requires everyone’s participation to treat and prevent disease. Women are KEY players to help increase global health.

  6. tarirohope said

    Education has been proved to be one of the most important ways to prevent new HIV infections. It is especially important for young girls, who are one of the highest risk demographics for new infections. Check out the work of Tariro, one organization working toward women’s education to improve health and development in Zimbabwe. http://tarirohope.wordpress.com/

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