Imagine if you were about to be born as someone else, in another part of the world, and with another family.
Perhaps you would:
- Only go to school until you were about 15 years old before you had to drop off in order to work to support your family
- Sign up to be a dishwasher only to end up being raped and converted into a prostitute against your will
- End up working for free even as a prostitute despite your need for money
- Be drugged by your boss so that you didn’t retaliate against being raped
- Be punched by your boss to the point that you had scars across your face
- Be ordered by your boss to stay naked all day for 7 days a week 15 hours a day in your role as a prostitute so that you had no place to store your tips
- Be forbidden to ask your “partner” to use contraceptives
- Not be given much to eat because you were told that men don’t like to pay to be with fat girls
- Be hit continuously by your boss (sometimes with fists, with belts, with sticks and with iron rods) until you smiled constantly so that you didn’t retaliate as much as you wanted to and for you to be able to fake happiness because you were told that men pay more to be with a girl whose eyes don’t reflect that she’s been sad or crying
- Be threatened constantly by your boss that you had to cooperate or you would be killed
- Be locked up in an apartment by your boss in a 10 story tall building so that you didn’t escape your own “home”
- Risk your life balancing yourself on a board between your window and a window in another building’s window so that you escaped from your own “home”
- Go to the authorities in this country but would soon find out that they’re against the basic human rights and dignity of the individual because the authorities would take you back to another place where your sole function was to be a prostitute all over again.
These are all of the things that you could experience as ONE person, in a short amount of time, as many girls in real life have, if you were born in a couple of Eastern countries where many people nowadays travel to for sheer vacationing pleasure and boast that they went there.
And even if governments have helped eliminate some of these types of brothels, the problem either as a whole, or in individual parts, persists.
What Is Likely To Be The Greatest Moral Challenge of the 21st Century?
Of all the problems that there can be in the world, gender equality in the developing world, is most likely to go down in history as being the greatest struggle of our century.
In addition to being the right thing to do, promoting gender equality is the crucial to combatting global poverty.
It’s a unique moral challenge which will benefit the world greatly for generations to come once it’s resolved, and thankfully, it does have a solution.
What Are the Effects of Unequal Medical Care for Girls?
As harsh as the scenario above is, in the book published in 2009 called, Half the Sky (which is where the scenario above comes from), Pulitzer prize winning authors and human activists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn state that a human right study found that “39,000 baby girls die annually in China because parents don’t give them the same medical care and attention that baby boys receive.”
This means that in some instances, if a baby boy gets sick, he’ll be provided medical care, but if a baby girl gets sick, the parents might wait until “tomorrow” to see how the baby is.
What this results in, is that between 400-800 girls die unnecessarily in China every week due to this negligence. Yet this hardly had made the news as of 2009.
In India, essentially the same thing has happened.
- Girls need to be more ill than boys to be taken to the hospital.
- The fact that mothers refuse to vaccinate girls in India (regardless of where you stand on whether babies should be vaccinated or not) has resulted in about 25% of female deaths due to negligence.
- Girls who are between ages 1-5 in India are about 50% more likely to die than boys of the same age.
- This translates to approximately one little Indian girl dying every 4 minutes.
As it’s shown in these two examples, your gender could greatly influence your life in some of eastern countries. So much so, that literally, your ability to survive, your worth, and how much you’re loved would depend on just your gender.
Even today in 2014, “almost half the kids born worldwide this year will have strikes against them— they’re girls in societies where that is a handicap.” *Gulp* I don’t know about you but that is just a hard truth to swallow.
These girls, “lack access to decent schools, they’re born in violent vortexes… making it extra hard for them to live up to their potential. They are the losers, but so is the world, for it is robbed of their contributions”
As Half the Sky points, out, “the global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.”
If that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what will. As I’m typing this I’m teary eyed. And as a mother, it hurts even more. So if you are ever blessed to have a baby girl, consider that a blessing, because I’m sure you wont perpetuate what seems to be a curse on females.
What Device Was Used By Some Nations to Alleviate The “Burden” of Girls Being Born?
Believe it or not, ultrasound machines. The fact that these machines can reveal the gender of a baby at one point made abortions in India and China more prevalent, just because some parents believed that they no longer had to have daughters.
As a result, doctors and ultrasound technicians were prohibited from informing mothers their baby’s gender. However, approximately 15% of these unwanted baby girls, eventually died as infants.
What Becomes of Many of the Chinese Ladies Who Were Once Unwanted as Babies?
You know all the items that you buy that are marked “Made in China”? As of 2009, about 80%- 80% of the employees in China’s assembly lines are female.
You can see this as either positive or negative.
The positive is that this type of work, is part of their empowerment.
The negative is why are more females than males working in this type of work?
According to some factory managers, women are more obedient and work harder than men. Their small hands are “ideal” for some of the arts.
Are Women Worth Feeding?
In places like Ethiopia, there are what’s known as an “emergency feeding station.” At any given time, dozens of children may be there to get some nourishment.
Why? It’s not that the males in their family don’t have enough to eat. It’s that parents often believe that the males in the family should be given priority when food is scarce.
Even with emergency feeding stations trying to help, each year, 2 million girls die worldwide due to malnourishment.
Is it Worth It to Buy Medicine for Women Who Are Ill?
Although the answer to this question should be an obvious “yes,” in some countries, when women are sick, they don’t receive medicine because they’re seen as replaceable.
And if it’s a matter of saving a son or saving a wife, many men would opt to save the son.
For How Much Money Or Property Are Women Worth Marrying?
As of 2009, South Asia and the Muslim world, hold “bride burning” every 2 hours as a punishment for not having enough dowry (money or property brought by the bride to her husband on their marriage). This eliminated the bride so the man could remarry. Yet news coverage like this wasn’t popular.
Girls Are Literally On Fire
Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the empowerment portrayed in Alicia Keys’ song. In some Middle Eastern countries, 5,000 women were literally lit up for disobedience over the span of 9 years.
Since it was family members doing it to other family members, nobody seemed to do anything about it.
But Not All Men Are Evil And Not All Women Are Nice
Although a conversation such as this may seem like it’s anti-male, it’s not.
There are fathers, in prostitute-drenched cities in India who have valiantly defended selling daughters into prostitution to violent groups even though some of these groups have destroyed the family’s home.
And there are organizations such as the Apne Aap Women Worldwide who support these families who support their girls.
In India, there are also brothel leaders who are not men, but matriarchal women.
What Makes the News?
Journalists cover what’s “new” for a particular day, but the injustices and oppressions that have become “routine” are often not cruelties worth mentioning to them. But as Sheryl and Kristoff say, it’s not just journalists who sometimes neglect these types of stories, but government assistance as well. As of 2009, less than 1% of U.S. foreign aid is specifically targeted to women and girls. This is one prime situation where knowing where our nation’s money is going is important, as well as knowing who the worldwide involvement is really helping.
What Do You Mean There Are Women “Missing”?
The degree of disregard, disrespect, oppression and plain murder against women has been such that there are some countries such as China, India and Pakistan, were there are more males than females.
Biologically, this is not normal, given that even in poor countries, usually, there are more women than men. Worldwide there are more females than males.
How many women are “missing,” you’re wondering? As of 1990, there were more than 107 million women missing. And while that number may seem like ages ago, for the children or family members who’ve lost those women, time hasn’t erased the loss.
Newer studies around the year 2009 calculated between 60 million to 101 million women missing. And as each year goes by, 2 million additional women disappear as a result of gender discrimination.
How Does Discrimination Against Women in the West Compare to Discrimination Against Women WorldWide?
According to Nicholas and Sheryl, these are the inequalities:
- In the West
- It’s usually unequal pay
- It’s usually sexual harassment
- Underfunded sports teams
- In some areas of the world
- Discrimination is Lethal
How Fast Are We Losing Women?
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. In each minute, of each day, 1 woman falls prey to:
- intimacy trafficking, forced prostitution
- gender-based violence (including honor killings and mass rape) and
- maternal mortality
What Is the Most Detrimental Result Of Prostitution?
In India, about 2 to 3 million prostitutes experience this hopelessness and resignation to being prostitutes.
Although a 2008 study found that in India half of the prostitutes enter the industry unwillingly, there are some women in their twenties who are willing to sell their bodies in order to feed their children. Even those who start unwillingly, eventually accept this as their destiny.
They do so because they believe they don’t have the skills to do anything else.
Worse yet, they feel too stigmatized to be able to keep another job.
This is what approximately 10 million women prostitutes in China feel, although more of them become prostitutes willingly and even go to hotel rooms, looking for business.
Why Does Learning About Woman’s Oppression Matter?
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be exploring how you can help alleviate this gender pain that has gone relatively untreated for far too long.
In the meantime, if you’re a lady, be proud of your sisters all around the world who are such an inspiration of triumph and resilience.
If you’re a guy, love women around even more and treat them like you truly love them.
What Benefits Can Investing in the Empowerment of Women Have?
Many of the remaining issues can also be positively impacted. According to the United Nations Development Program, “Women’s empowerment helps raise economic productivity and reduce infant mortality. It contributes to improved health and nutrition. It increases the chances of education for the next generation.”
What Are Organizations That Have Seen The Power of Women Saying About Women?
Women are the key to ending hunger in Africa.” – Hunger Project
Progress is achieved through women.” -founder of Doctors Without Borders, Bernard Kouchner
There are organizations like The Center for Global Development, The Nike Foundation and the Novo Foundation who have females as their main hope of world development.
It’s Not All About the Economy
While supporting women’s education and entrepreneurial ventures helps the economy as a whole, our main motive for helping women should not be to gain benefits.
Goldman Sachs, who generously gave $100 million to the “10,000 Women” campaign that focuses on providing 10,000 women a business education said that “Gender inequality hurts economic growth.”
I say that , “Gender inequality hurts hearts, overall happiness, and overall hope in humanity.” Not just of the women who struggle, but of every man or woman who has a heart.
Women, no matter how great group of workers they are, are more than just workers. They are not the hard-working machines that will dig us all of the economic hole that we’re in.
Yes, they can work hard, and are capable of that feat.
But women are sooooo much more than that. They’re human beings. They’re divine spirits.
They come in the form of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters and sisters.
They are the people who raised the greatest male and female leaders that humanity has ever known.
Why? Because they’re invincible leaders.
The greatest tragedies suffered by humankind, have been in situations or in countries where women have been marginalized.
As a matter of fact, the countries that today pose the greatest threat to world peace are precisely countries where women participation and empowerment is low.
Even the military agrees that empowering girls, would disempower [the people who make our airport security measures change from one color to another].
Women don’t tend to breed hatred. They tend to breed love.
And for that reason and more, we should not view them as pleasure-giving machines either. A women’s sexuality is theirs. It does not belong to their partners.
Women can and should choose to have or to not have women, to have or to not have intimacy.
Ultimately, the money that they do earn should be used in a way that they want. Women are not “obliged” to give back, although often, they’ll happily will.
Time To Share Your Treasure Tokens
The best thing that you can do with your time for now, if you want to help is to buy A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity so that you can immediately educate yourself to give voice to the voiceless and help where you most think it’s called for. There will be a new documentary coming up, next year, which you can help support by finding the details in the book.
If you want to see a recent interview that they had on Marie TV, and which couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, please visit, http://www.marieforleo.com/2014/09/nicholas-kristof-sheryl-wudunn/
If needy people help, so can you. 🙂 Please come back and write what you’ve been inspired to do once you read the book or even just as a result of reading this article or watching Marie Forleo’s wonderful interview.
In the meantime, love women in your family the best they can. They deserve it.