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.