Recently, a video of 11 years old Yemeni girl whi decided to fight against her family in marrying her off went viral (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J7_TKgw1To). She brought up the subject that most of us did not want to hear nor acknowledged. That despite we are living in 21st century, not all women are given equal opportunities to pursue their dreams and to be educated. This case especially true to a greater extent in certain countries, such as Yemen and India, of which the latter had been heavily criticized due to a case of young women brutally raped in a bus.
As hurtful to read, this fact needs our attention. According to UN, in many countries, gender inequality persists, and women continuously facing discrimination in regards to education access, work, economic asset, and participation in the government. A clear example would be, that in developing countries, fewer women hold secure jobs than men, often in rather small benefits.
Moreover, in some countries, even fewer percentage of women continue their secondary education than their male classmates. Their chance to education is often exacerbated due to poverty. In addition, violence against women and limited efforts from government to improve women’s living conditions just make the matter worse. This needs to change.
We need to acknowledge women’s critical role in local economies and well-being of the families, by providing them equal access to education and eradicate gender disparities.
According to Care.org, educated women are more likely to have fewer children. They also tend to immunize their children much often. HIV/AIDS spread is also much less within women with some schooling than those without.
Improving maternal health will resulted in increasing women’s capacity to work and generating income. Thus, will help overcoming poverty. Therefore, it is critical to build self-confidence, educate and empower young girls who live in poverty to enable them make informed decisions about their lives and those of their communities. To enable them fight what its wrong and not silently accepting deep-rooted gender discrimination in their society.
So, what we should do to unleash women’s potential?
First, combating poor nutrition which often faced by pregnant women in developing countries. Lack of nutrition often make child’s brain does not developed completely. By providing iodized salt (a frugal product at a cost of couple pennies per person per annum), we can make girls smarter! 🙂
Secondly, keep the girls in school! Provide donations in form of scholarship for girls to make them stay in school and get education that they desperately want. Do not let their (often) dysfunctional family take them away from school. A girl who gets an education often will have fewer children, earn more money and will be able to help their family and younger siblings.
Third, empowering women to fully participate in economic activities. One successful initiative is conducted by KIVA and grameen bank where they provide micro-loans for woman to start their own business. By doing so, they enable women to feed their children and afford for their education. A cycle that move us one step closer to poverty eradication.
Forth, fight for any gender discrimination, including those that are done by ourselves unconsciously or by our societies. Even us, women, tend to undermine the full potential of women to excel at her work or as a leader. We should embrace other female colleagues and support each other in unleashing our potential. This can be achieved through knowledge sharing, providing mentorship as well as encouragement. We should keep in mind that when it comes to achieving objectives and result realization, gender does not matter!
We as a women, are the most responsible for eliminating any gender disparities which exist today! If we didn’t act, it won’t changed!