Insights from Sarah: Women's Health

Introducing... a new weekly blog segment from Sarah. Every Thursday, Sarah will be sharing some insight on life around the globe. We are so excited about this! Not only is Sarah a talented writer, an avid learner, and a passionate advocate for human rights... but she also launched JustOne with Krista back in 2012! Unfortunately, she moved a few hours away and with her other demands of being a mom to 4, and working full time and all her other commitments she had to pull out of JustOne. BUT... Sarah has never fully left. She still regularly shares articles she's read, passes us information and suggests great books. We love Sarah's passion for humanity and are so glad she will be sharing a bit of what she is learning about what is happening in the world, and how that effects her heart and our lives.

Watch for other regular blog contributors in the upcoming weeks!

Without much thinking or planning, I decided I would enrol in a Stanford university course.  I am passionate about global women's issues and I learned registration was open for an online course named International Women's Health and Human Rights.  I thought it would be informative and helpful to my understanding of the issues women face across countries around the world.  

The very first sheet I read was a graph sorted by country and each gender titled "Percent of Women and Men Who Agree That Wife Beating Is Acceptable if a Wife Argues With Her Husband".  Yes, you read that right.  In Ghana in 2008, 11% of men agreed.  In Uganda in 2006, 36% of men agreed.  But get this - In Ghana in 2008, 21% of women agreed and Uganda in 2006 40% of women agreed.  In the majority of countries, more women agreed it was acceptable to be beaten by their husbands than men.  I was floored.
Women in many of these countries have little to no human rights which results in a lack of medical care, education and nutrition.  Marriage and child-bearing is expected from the majority of women so education is not a priority from parents.  Due to lack of education, they end up in low-paying jobs. In Uganda, women are not allowed to own land, even if they could manage to scrape together the money to pay the price. Once married, women have little authority on decision making and virtually no control over resources yet are expected to manage a household and bear many children. 

The same data sheet included a graph on household decision making.  In 2004 Malawi, husbands made 80% of large house purchase decisions, 70% of their wife's health care decisions and 65% of the daily household purchase decisions.  I cannot fathom my health care decisions being made by someone of the opposite sex - men have totally different bodies than women!

Since enrolling in the course, I have been brought back to reality.  I don't necessarily like knowing that at any given time, a woman on the other side of the world is being forced  into marriage or giving birth without a skilled attendant or having to choose which child she can feed today.  I would much rather prefer to go on pretending I am oblivious.  But once you know, once you hear a woman's story, exchange hugs and have tea together, you can't.  It's not her fault that she was born there and I was lucky enough to be born here.  And in the end, every single one of us women are the same.  We want purposeful lives, appreciative spouses and healthy children.  Each of us deserves the opportunity to make that happen, regardless of where we land on the globe.
 Sarah lives in Northern Ontario with her family. Sarah and her husband have four children, and one grandson. She is an avid reader and learner. In 2012, Sarah launched JustOne with Krista and travelled to Kenya, Uganda and South Africa together. Sarah has a blog we love to read called "Recipe for Messiness" that is about finding beauty amidst our messy lives. 

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