Saturday, August 09, 2014

IWHHR: Group Meeting - Individual Reflection #1

During the summer of 2014, I am taking an online course in Global Health from Stanford University taught by Anne Firth Murray entitled, "International Women's Health and Human Rights" (IWHHR). I will be posting my reflective writing assignments from each week's course of study. All writings can be found under the tag IWHHRDetails on the course can be found here.
If you are interested in taking this or another course, you can find a listing of the online courses offered by Stanford here. From economics to cryptography, courses are added each semester.

International Women’s Health & Human Rights
Week 1 Discussion Guide:
Women’s Rights

Photo from our text, From Outrage to Courage by Anne Firth Murray
Themes from the Week
• The status of females
• Women’s Rights = Human Rights
• Giving reality to human rights
• Negative Rights: (civil rights) and Positive Rights (socio-economic rights)
• UDHR, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Part I. Introduction and Initial Response
Take a moment to write down: Why are you interested in taking this course? What do you hope to gain from it? Then, when everyone is ready, please share these ideas with your group.
Next, please discuss your personal reactions to the readings and/or videos from Week 1 on Women’s Human Rights. Describe one new idea or fact that you learned from the course this week.
Part II. Topical Discussion Questions to consider with your group. 
1. What does it mean to be born female in different parts of the world?
• Consider places such as Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, the United States, or any other country of interest, including your own.
• What are the barriers and burdens that women (not men) experience?
• What are some reasons these barriers and burdens exist?
2. Recall the conversation on human rights with Professor Helen Stacy. Think about and discuss the differences between negative rights and positive rights.
3. Consider your own country and women’s rights. What is the condition of negative (civil) rights in your country? What about positive (socio-economic) rights?
4. Can human rights norms be broadly adopted and/or enforced? Consider them at the local, national, and international levels. If your answer is “yes,” how can they be given reality? Who are involved and what are some of the challenges? If your answer is “no,” then how can these rights still be promoted? (Please refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights if you think it is relevant to your response to these questions.)
5. Discuss the CEDAW treaty. What does the acronym stand for? How does it pertain to your country? Has your country ratified CEDAW and/or has it placed any reservations on the treaty? Why do you think it has placed reservations?

During our discussion this morning, it was apparent that we were from various backgrounds and came into it with different experiences. This made our conversation all the richer. We discussed women's rights as human rights through the context of our own experiences in our families, our communities, and the two different countries where we are from. The other women in my group opened my eyes to experiences and stereotypes they have encountered in their lives as women of color. Another woman shared with us her views about what it means to be a woman in her country of St. Lucia and even the differences between living in the capital as she does and living in the rural areas. We talked a lot about how it comes down to how we were raised and the type of education that happens within each family. The family is the fundamental unit of society. Though governments have the power to impose laws about human rights (hopefully in our favor), the action happens at the smallest of levels. First the family, then the school, the workplace, the community, the city, the state, the country and so forth. We followed Discussion Toolkit from Week One. It was a fruitful discussion (two hours) and really helped us all to get more excited about the class and be accountable for our learning so we have something to bring to the group. Group work has always been difficult for me. The timing, the planning, the scheduling, the equal load share. But it's always rewarding when done right.

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