I never though much of women rights outside of the equal pay and abortion question. In America as a woman, I can attend school, have a safe birth, speak my voice, wear what I want, get married, get divorced and get married again. I can walk outside by myself without having the permission of my father, son or brother. I can drive, I can have sex without shame (and be the one to bring the condoms), and I can have a daughter whom I love and care for as much as a son. An assignment for my Human Rights class, shockingly opened my eyes to the reality that not all women around the world share these same benefits. In fact, extreme poverty, human trafficking and sex trade, lack of education and health care, sexual and physical abuse, genital mutilation and a threat to life due to gender continues to plague women globally in staggering numbers.
Free the Children: A young man fights against child labor and proves that children can change the world and Half the Sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide are the two books that I recently read for my human rights class. I was asked to write about what ideas come to mind to address and help solve the issues raised in these books. Not an easy or small task! As the book Half the Sky shows, sometimes the obvious solution does not always work. For example, in an example in the book, HIV mothers in Africa were provided formula so they do not breastfeed and pass the disease to their babies. The mothers then threw the formula away outside of the hospital because if they did not breastfeed the other people in their village would then know that they were HIV positive.
So what solution can I offer that could help solve the large and often complex problems represented in these books? Global awareness. If I was not aware of these large, complex, and horrifying injustices that are occurring, I can assume that there are other people who do not know as well. Different non profits who are working with these issues (several of them are mentioned in both books) can sponsor billboards around the US with simple phrases such as, “What if your 5 year old had to work 12 hours a day in a factory?”, “What if your husband could hit you for disobeying?”, “What if by law you could only have 1 child. Would you pick your son or daughter?”, “If you only made $2 a day what would you buy?” with a picture of house and food or a picture of medicine and school books, or “Does being born a woman make your life less valuable?”. Short phrases like these could spark the thought process as people read them and each billboard could have a website where people could find out more about these issues and find ways they can help. Each billboard could also include the phrase, “Women’s rights/Children’s rights are human rights”.
If we do not know that there is a problem than how can we do anything about it? Seeing PETA’s messages all over the media led me to one day visit their website, watch a video and become vegan so hopefully these messages displayed around the country can spark the same awareness and call to action.
I encourage you to read these books I mentioned here and learn more about the global human rights issues that are still occurring around the world, including the US, find out what you can do to help. There are many great organizations that are working to end human rights injustices around the world. Whether your passion is ending violence against women, extreme poverty, or you are passionate about educating girls there is organization that is working to provide the assistance needed to make a difference.
For more information, visit the website “A Path Appears” by the authors of Half the Sky. There you can read about their new book and documentary that offers readers and viewers a roadmap to become a more conscientious global citizen.
You also might like: