This is a guest post by Vanessa Coleman, coordinator of the International Women’s Health Leadership Institute and the International Women’s Health Working Group.
This New Year as you set down and make resolutions, we at AMSA urge you to make another one. Ghandi once said â€œBe the change you want to see in the world.â€� Imagine how much of a difference we could make in our practices, medical schools and in our communities if each of us 30,000 AMSA members made this resolution? Apply for AMSA’s inaugural International Womenâ€™s Leadership Institute and BE THE CHANGE.
Read on for details.
2010 does not mark a new beginning for many women and girls in this world that are suffering from gender-based violence and oppression:
- For Mahabouba in Ethiopia it may be another year that she must live with the obstetric fistula she developed after 3 days of labor. Her 13 year old pelvis was far too narrow to pass the babyâ€™s head and without emergency obstetric care her baby died and she was left with a hole between her rectum, bladder and vagina that constantly leaks feces and urine.
- For Neth in Cambodia this may be the year that this 10 year old is forced into child prostitution. Her poor family can not afford to send her to school and the recent economic downturn they had no other options but to sell her to become a servant in the city. They thought she was just being sold to a wealthy family that could provide for her but instead she was sold into child prostitution. According to UNICEF, 2 million children are victims of child sex workers and 1.2 million children are victims of child sex trafficking, most of them are girls.
- Sia arrived at the maternity hospital I interned in with severe hemorrhaging. She was bleeding as a complication of unsafe abortion. According to an article in the Lancet, 97% of all unsafe abortion occur in low-income nations yielding 68,000 deaths and millions more injured.
- This may be the year that Dina in the Congo continues to waste away from her traumatic fistula. Dina was raped as another casualty for the long conflict in the Congo.
- Prudence in Cameron died in childbirth last year. According to Word Health Organization data 1/47, 600 women have a lifetime risk of dying in childbirth compared to Niger where women have a 1/7 chance of death.
- Edna Adan was a victim of FGM. According to the UNFPA, 3 million girls and young women undergo FGM each year.
- Ethel was a Sioux women in South Dakoata who was murdered by her husband. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, rates of sexual and domestic violence are highest in Native American women versus any other group. More over Native women are have a 1 in 3 chance of being sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime which is more than 2 times higher than that of non-Native women.
All these stories are true. Most of them came from the Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn book Half the Sky about international womenâ€™s empowerment, the story about Ethel came from Marianne Perl (A Mighty Heart) and the story of Sia came from my own personal experience in Liberia (name changed). Are you willing to step in and say â€œNOâ€� to this situation and make a difference in the lives of these women and girls?
JOIN US ON JAN 30 â€“ FEB 1ST AS WE HOST AMSAâ€™S FIRST INTERNATIONAL WOMENâ€™S HEALTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE. Training will be provided on clinical skills, advocacy and on the pressing topics of international health. We will also provide you with resources for global health mentoring, electives and how to hold great, interactive service or awareness building programs at your school. Let us use the privilege and power that we have in getting an education and having a response government to advocate on behalf of these women. They could be our patients one day.
The application deadline has been extended to January 9th. Please apply early so that you can write your Dean of Student Affairs to help pay for the $150 program fee. This institute is offered to ALL AMSA members. Please visit our website to enter your application! We will get back with you in 5 business days. We look forward to hearing from you!