Every woman deserves education, access to health care

Divya GopisettyBy Divya Gopisetty, president of the Interact Club of Oakwood High School, Morgan Hill, California

I am amazed at all Rotary is able to accomplish. Each of you, members of Rotary, has an unyielding passion for change, a kind heart, and a determined spirit. You have discovered the importance of taking action instead of merely acknowledging issues exist. You are role models for the rest of the world.

Because of your enormous success and drive, I propose a new project for Rotary clubs to undertake. “Every Woman, Every Right” would not only build schools in poorer parts of developing countries, but also advance the security of women, and aid in providing health care where people can’t afford hospitals or treatment.

Unequal power relationships between men and women, social norms that decrease education and paid employment opportunities, and physical and verbal harassment are just a few of the conditions that prevent women and girls around the world from attaining the best possible level of health and education.

In the past few decades, the maternal mortality rate has decreased globally by about 40 percent. But on average, 800 women still die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Women need significantly better access to quality family planning and other reproductive health services, skilled midwives, emergency obstetrics, and postnatal care.

In June of 2013, in Kunduz, Afghanistan, a woman was murdered for giving birth to a girl. The veil shielding crimes like these is only beginning to lift. Rampant poverty makes women’s rights inconceivable and the lack of convictions makes violence against women pervasive. In many third world countries, women are not even allowed to work the same jobs as men, let alone get the same pay.

Empowering women is key to ridding the developing countries of these acts of injustice. To do that, we must look to education. There is a strong correlation between poverty and lack of education, and Rotary’s vast connections can help.

There are 80 million uneducated girls worldwide. Increasing their access to education would transform developing countries enormously. And advancing global health goes hand in hand with education. We want to teach them that confidence is not a sin, and everyone is born with certain natural rights, including the right to health and education. We want them to be strong and capable of making a difference in their community.

You are revered for your immense past successes. I hope, with this mission, you embrace your power once again. “Every Woman, Every Right” is a necessity for our world to move forward. This issue requires attention, effort, public knowledge, and, of course, money. My peers from both Interact and Rotaract will support you in using your incredible power.

This effort will help my generation realize that change does not have to wait until tomorrow and especially doesn’t have to wait until we are older. Change stems from choice and courage, nothing more.

Learn more about how Rotary clubs take action to better their communities

Browse projects on Rotary Showcase or find out how you can support projects on ideas.rotary.org

Source: Rotary Voices

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