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 IWHHR. Details 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.
|Photo from our course material|
International Women’s Health & Human Rights
Week 3 Discussion Guide:
Childhood and Adolescence
Themes from the Week
• Adolescence and Change
• Female Genital Mutilation
Part I. Initial Response
Please discuss your personal reactions to the readings and/or videos from Week 3 on Childhood and Adolescence, which focused on Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Describe one new idea or fact that you have learned from the course this week.
Part II. Topical Discussion Questions on Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation to consider with your group.
1. Why is it important to study adolescent girls as a separate age group? What are issues that adolescent girls face that children (younger than 10) do not? What are issues that adolescent girls face that women (older than 24) do not?
2. What is the World Health Organization's definition of Female Genital Mutilation [FGM]? Consider the terms “female genital mutilation,” “female genital cutting,” and “female circumcision.” Given what you know about the differences in the procedures between countries, comment on these terminologies.
3. What are the justifications for FGM? What are the consequences of FGM? What is being done to change perceptions of FGM in the communities in which it is practiced? If you were a citizen of a country in which FGM is being practiced, how would you address the cultural reasons for conducting the procedure?
Part III. Topical Discussion Questions on HIV/AIDS to consider with your group.
4. Girls and women are more vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS than are boys and men. Why do females have a higher risk than males of contracting HIV? Think about biology, social status, and age differences.
5. How does the stigma relating to HIV/AIDS further endanger girls living with this disease?
6. Despite the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, there are methods and resources to reduce symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease. Pretend that you are a young woman in a monogamous relationship with an HIV positive male. What are some ways to prevent you from contracting HIV? If you plan to have a baby, like Bhanu in From Outrage to Courage, how can you prevent your child from contracting HIV? How are some communities helping girls and young women infected with HIV/AIDS?
Part IV. Women’s Health & Human Rights in Your Community
Dr. Gene Richardson talked about “structural violence,” which he calls “types of violence that are not physical but that affect the health of populations,” including “institutionalized racism, gender inequality, lack of access to water or to clean water, lack of access to adequate housing—all the sorts of social mechanisms that prevent a population or a group of persons from becoming as healthy as they should be can be thought of as structural violence.”
7. Please think about the community you live in. Are there any examples of “structural violence” in your community that prevent some members of the community from being as healthy as they could be? Please write down some of these examples.
8. Write down some of the reasons these conditions exist.
9. Are there ways to address these problems? Does positive change require action from the government, organizations, or individuals to help eliminate “structural violence” and promote health for all?
Unfortunately, this time around two of our group members decided not to join us, so that left just me and one other woman named Janelle. We had a good discussion anyway, following Discussion Toolkit 3. We discussed what we learned about FGM/C, its prevalence, and the (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) issues women face because of it. We also talked about HIV/AIDS and how we would handle a relationship with a partner who was HIV positive. Admittedly, we both felt like this might be a deal-breaker. Next we spoke a lot about St. Lucia and the structural violence examples Janelle has seen there. She talked about the attitudes of men and how often women don't really have a say in the relationships. It was fascinating to me, being from the United States and I really appreciated her openness and the opportunity to learn how life was for her in the Caribbean.