Promoting gender equality is one of the most important global efforts taking place in the world today. When women and girls are able to receive educations and make decisions about their future, society benefits in many ways, including in the realm of health care.
Although great strides are being made in the field of health care and maternal health in developing countries, discrimination against women and girls still occurs in many cultures, having a negative effect on families living in poverty. Giving girls access to educational opportunities to encourage literacy is one of the most effective ways of bridging this gender gap and improving health care. Even small victories on the march toward equality can make a major difference in the lives of girls and women living in poverty.
According to a 2011 report from the World Health Organization, denying primary education to young girls has been shown to negatively impact fertility rates, birth spacing, health literacy and healthy behaviors. Similar reports have found that educating women in Africa and Latin America lowers their risk of HIV infection.
By empowering women and young girls through educational opportunities, they are able to become well-versed in the safest health practices, learning the best ways to deal with common issues in their communities. Training women to become health workers, especially within the realm of maternal care, can foster independence while building a sustainable health care system. Additionally, health education allows these women to make informed decisions about personal health care, which in turn can help them avoid preventable diseases or potentially dangerous procedures.
In many countries that ChildFund serves, we have helped train women to work with mothers in these impoverished communities, providing good information about their health and their children's development. In Indonesia, for example, women known as "health cadres" have caused a cultural shift in their communities, leading more women to have their babies in hospitals instead of at home. This has led to lower birth mortality rates.
As we see daily in news reports, we have a long way to go before all women have the chance to live independent, fulfilled lives, but we are making some headway in gender equality. Whether it's empowering girls by providing access to education, making sure that young mothers have the necessary maternal care, or equipping women with the knowledge and resources required to sustain their own income, these efforts require your continued support.
ChildFund works with many girls and women in developing countries on gender issues, providing them with opportunities for health care and education so they can become healthy, independent adults. You can help in our efforts by choosing a gift from our Real Gifts catalog. We have many options for aiding girls and women, and your gift could make a difference in the lives of children in need and their families.