What irks me - the mother's day edition

With mother's day approaching I think it only fitting that we end our little segment about global issues by tackling issues related to women's health and gender discrimination. This week we've already discussed a handful of other topics that families in developing nations face on a daily basis. It's not ok that families are still struggling to feed themselves and provide clean water for drinking and sanitation, they are also at risk for HIV and other life threatening diseases.

If those issues weren't enough, we've barely scratched the surface as far as women's health and gender equality is concerned. There are so many subissues that fall under these categories that we could be here all day. So because we both have laundry to wash and noses to wipe, I'll try to give you the 10 second version.

Women's rights: across the globe gender based discrimination takes on many faces, and all of them are ugly. Women are vulnerable to job discrimination, poor health, violence, extreme poverty and limited education opportunities. As an American, I am so blessed to live in a culture where my contribution, as a mother, to society is not only acknowledged but celebrated. Sadly, I'm in the minority, globally speaking.

Here's a little secret that men in developing nations don't want you to know. Empowered women are the key to rising entire communities out of extreme poverty. An educated mother can contribute not only to her families social well being, but can improve the health and well being of her village as well. She can recognize symptoms of illnesses before they become life altering, she knows how to care for her livestock and crops, and she can empower her own children for a brighter future.

Women's health: discrimination and poor health care go hand in hand. They are playmates who like to pull hair and fight dirty. From the moment a female child is born until the moment she passes into eternity her health and well being is seen as less important than her male counterpart's.

At birth she is more likely to be abandoned if not a victim of infanticide.

During her grade school years, she's less likely to be allowed to attend school, and more likely to become a child bride. Often she is sold to the highest bidder so that her family can buy basic essentials.

As a teenager she's more likely to become a victim of HIV, and is in danger of being approached by human traffickers (don't get me started on that topic).

If she makes it through her teenage years into her child baring years she's likely to die in childbirth. Half a million women die in child birth each year. 99% of those deaths occur in developing nations, where women often don't have access to basic health care.

Yuck. No me gusta.

If women dodge every bullet in their paths, and manage to live a full life, retirement is a cruel and hopeless finish line. Elderly women in developing nations face a double edged discriminatory sword of both gender and age. Sadly relief efforts in developing areas are generally geared towards children and families, and tend to ignore the elderly.

What part of any of this is ok with you? If you have a pulse, it should be pounding with righteous indignation. Mine is. I wanna stomp my feet and shout to the wind. But frankly such poetic fury doesn't really change things. The best way to fight social injustice is to care. Care about the problem enough to educate yourself. Then educate someone else. Be willing to be a part of the conversation. And then speak up.

 Here are just a few places to start learning more about gender inequality:

Global issues - Women's rights

Amnesty international

Women at Risk International

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