Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IWHHR: Engage Your Community, Part Two

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.


Find a person who is more than thirty years different in age from you. Interview her and find out about that person and her ideas about women's rights and health.

Does she consider women in her country to have full equality with men? Why not? What issues relating to women's health and human rights does she consider important? Has she ever been discriminated against because of her gender? What advice would she have for young women growing up in her country in this period of time?
Interview with: Susan Roylance
Date of Interview: 28 August 2014

Susan Roylance is a mother, grandmother, and author with particular interest in international public policy as it relates to families. I met Susan through another friend, equally interested in families, the refugee communities in Salt Lake City, and serving people in need. We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with her about her work, her writing, and her hope for the future.

In 1977, Susan was approached by a friend to lead a small group of pro-family women at the Washington State International Women's Year Conference. At first she was not interested in the least, but after she listened to recordings of the other states' conferences, which were full of pro-abortion and anti-motherhood activities. These conferences happened in every state in the U.S., after then-President Jimmy Carter established a $5 million fun to hold IWY Conferences across the country and appointed Bella Abzug to lead the women of the nation in establishing a national plan of action for women. In an article entitled, "Mothers Not Welcome," published in Mothers and Father Defending Marriage and Family In the Halls of the U.N., Susan wrote, "While the original intent of the conferences may have been benign--merely attempting to focus on the need to treat women with greater equality in the work places, etc., somewhere along the way these conferences became the sounding board for radical feminists."

Susan's involvement over the years in over 25 international conferences, including the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, stemmed from her belief that women's rights include a pro-family focus. She supports the need to treat women with greater equality, but not by breaking down the family in the process. Susan founded United Families International in 1978. She also created an HIV/AIDS education program for children called "Stay Alive" in response to the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Her program has now been used in educating children about HIV/AIDS in over 16 countries in Africa.

In addition to her political and social activism, Susan has had a great interest in the peoples of the world. She and her husband lived in both Kenya and Uganda for several years, assisting rural farmers increase their income. Currently, she works closely with the Burmese refugee population in Salt Lake City, helping them adjust to life in the States. She also teaches piano to Burmese teenagers and English to families who have just arrived.

When I asked Susan if she has ever felt discriminated against because of her gender, her simple answer was, "no." She was raised in a family where she felt valued and was encouraged to do everything her siblings were encouraged to do as well.

The women's movement in the United States has done much for women. The initiatives are positives steps forward until, Susan says, "they begin to breakdown the family." Women around the world in developing countries still need the benefits of "the women's movement" because many women across the world are still in situations where they are undervalued and unsafe. But Susan still believe that a focus on strengthening and nurturing the family can assist with many issues that are plaguing women and families across the world.

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