Sunday, September 07, 2014

IWHHR: Conclusion (Choosing Priorities and Making A Difference)

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.
Photo by S. Smith Patrick


Of the many topics that we have covered over the past weeks, focus on one topic that is of particular interest to you. Describe the situation relating to this topic in your community. What would you want to do to improve the situation for women relating to this topic in your community?
As I review the course topics and think about what I have learned, the one thing that sticks out in my mind as something which needs improvement is simply what value we publicly put on women and girls and their roles in the family, in the community, and in the world. Valuing not only women, but valuing families as the foundation of our society is crucial to improving the world. We can all do small things to help make improvements in this area by starting within our own families: Encouraging our girls (and boys) to get an education and to make the most of their time in school. Ensuring that our homes are safe havens for children to share thoughts, feelings, and feel safe. Instill a sense of love and respect for all members of the family, so that each feels their own worth and value.

So maybe we're doing those things in our own families. Should we stop there? I would say no. I recognize, and have been repeatedly reminded throughout the course, that I have lived a fairly privileged life. I have parents who not only love and care for me, but have advanced skills which they handed down to me, life skills, academic skills, and language skills. All these things helped to set me up for a more privileged life. This is not the case for many children and I think it's important to recognize the need that could be right next door. I can support local organizations that are working to improve the situation for children who live in homes that are not safe or supportive. I can volunteer. I can teach. I can also step back and realize that every family is different and functions differently. But a family is successful if it is filled with love and support and safety.

Another thing I have been thinking about are the vast number of refugees that have been brought to Salt Lake City for a second chance. There are many ways in which these families need assistance. A friend of mine volunteers with refugee families and has told me many stories about teaching them how to live in The United States, even down to learning how to use electricity, flush a toilet, and load a washing machine, all things they had never before had opportunity to experience.

Over the next few weeks, I will be chewing on ideas of ways I can help and get involved in improving the quality of life for women, girls, and frankly, the whole family, in my community. Getting outside of myself and serving others always seems to be the answer to greater happiness and greater fulfillment. And of course, in the process, I'll be helping someone in an invaluable way.

Any suggestions?

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