Francoise Girard, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition, has dedicated her life to protecting women around the world, and helping them assume their rights. She addresses a few of the more egregious women’s health and rights violations in this conversation.
Sadly, arranged and forced marriages are not a thing of the past in many countries around the world. Over 12 million girls are still married off every year in this manner. In some countries it is common to find a 16 year old girl with two children who is widowed and forced to fend for herself, in a country where it is nearly impossible for a woman to provide for a family, simply because she was forced to marry an older man who has passed away.
In many developing countries maternal fatalities are high. There are also ethic issues with women and childbirth. Many african american women, even in the U.S. experience dangerous and even life threatening complications during pregnancy. She cites the near death experience that famous tennis star, Serena Williams experienced when giving birth to her child.
A woman’s right to choose is still illegal in some countries. This creates a myriad of problems as women seek to abort their own pregnancies in uncouth and dangerous manners without proper supervision and care. Abortion will always happen, either safely or not.
Argentina is an example of a heavily Catholic country where abortion is still illegal. There is, however, a new bill that could grant abortion rights.
She stresses the importance to educate women around the world as an antidote for many cultural and economic problems that plague third world countries.
There are some very basic accommodations that we in the U.S. take for granted, like having clean bathrooms and access to sanitary products for girls in school. The absence of such basic facilities often prevent girls from furthering their education past adolescence.
The effects of the Trump administration on women’s rights is more devastating to women around the world. Trump has been cutting important UN funding to programs that would help women. Even on a smaller but still dangerous level, Trump and his actors have been attacking sextual education and programming by cutting funding. Eight years of these policies could disintegrate women’s heath to an abysmal degree.
Francoise briefly outlines some movements of hope, highlighting some countries experiencing progress for women’s rights. South Africa’s #metoo movement has gained momentum and is doing a lot to call men out. Japan is very good to women in terms of having and showing proper respect for women. There is very little violence against women, and Japan, as a whole, also has low interpersonal violence rates across the board.