Street Photography Havana

International Women’s Day: A Tribute to Women and Girls

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.— Kofi Annan

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. It is International Women’s Day, a day around the world to honor women and girls and to look at the progress that has been made and the work that remains to be done. For those who have followed my blog for a while, you know that the rights of women and girls lies near and dear to my heart. I’ve witnessed the inequities and injustice firsthand throughout my travels around the world.

Women and girls are more likely to be poor, unable to go to school, be married young and not have the same opportunities as boys and men. Women still die during childbirth at alarming rates, and are being victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking even here in the United States. The list of tragedies goes on and on.

However, the exciting news is this reality is rapidly changing. More women and girls are being empowered with education, training, and access to healthcare, mobile money, micro financing and the internet. The future is looking much brighter for women and girls than it did just a decade ago. So instead of dwelling on the bad things, I want to honor the good things that are happening by highlighting a few of my favorite women and girls I’ve met along the way.

Bolivia

Woman in La Paz Bolivia

Cerro Austria Bolivia

Eugenia, our cook, inside the “kitchen” tent gives us a big smile.

Ethiopia

Mosebo Village Ethiopia

Children in Mosebo Village 42 k away from Bahir Dar in Ethiopia.

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Midwives in training

Ethiopian Woman

Mother.

Ellilta Products Ethiopia

Weaver at work.

Yetebon community Ethiopia

Inside we meet a mother and her expectant daughter. They walked two hours on foot to reach the Lie and Wait house. Her mother delivered all 8 children at home with no help.

Tanzania

Mkura Maasi Training Camp Tanzania

Mkura Maasi Training Camp Tanzania

Moshi Tanzania

I couldn’t resist getting my picture taken with these lovely girls.

Me and Mary learning how to make Maasai jewelry that she can sell to earn a profit.

Haiti
papier-mâché artisans Jacmel Haiti

Carnaval 2015 Port-au-Prince

Our group, #Bloggers4Haiti

Cuba

Cienfuegos Cuba

Lovely smiling sisters.

Street Photography Havana

The abeulas of Cuba

The abeulas of Cuba

Guatemala

Maria. Guatemala.

Costa Rica

Dos Brazos de Tigre Lokal Travel

Xiña leads the way with her walking stick ready.

Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre, Osa Península, Costa Rica

Inside Zulay’s house

Xiña and her sister who lives in Puerto Jimenez and will be our cook for the next day.

Honduras

The girls in Honduras where I volunteered.

India

Indian girls inside a Delhi slum

Smiling and hopeful Indian girls within a Delhi slum

Meeting with Frontline Health Care Workers in The Indira Kalyan Camp

I will forever be grateful for the amazing women and girls I’ve met along the way that have inspired me to do more and fight for them.

Want to learn more about International Women’s Day and what is happening? Follow the hashtag #BeBoldForChange or #IWD2017 online. 

Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD Women and Girls

El dia de la mujer in Xela, Guatemala

Today was an amazing day. One of those unexpected, joyful events happened here in Guatemala. An event that will have a lasting impact on my experience living here in Xela for a week to learn Spanish and understand Guatemala’s rich culture.

Being away from home, I completely forgot that March 8th is a special day for women around the world. It is International Women’s Day. Thus, I was fortunate to be here on “El dia de la muter” and witness the grand celebration that is happening all across Guatemala and the world today. The celebration and promotion of women’s rights and an end to violence against women.

Since I’ve been in Xela, I’ve learned a lot about a woman’s life in Guatemala. My fantastic Spanish teacher, Lili told me some surprising details of what it is like for most women to live in Guatemala. There are several issues regarding women’s rights that need to be resolved yet are very complicated since many problems are engrained in their Latin culture. Guatemala, like most latin countries, has a strong culture of Machismo and is very conservative. Thus women are not always treated as equals. Most women in Guatemala, regardless of status and/or profession do not understand their rights or if they do understand them are afraid to do anything. Violence against women is very common and tragic. Many women suffer beatings and some are even killed if they do not comply with their husbands wishes. The murder rates are high thus women are afraid of reporting domestic violence to the police.

To further aggravate the problem, many women working at factories are exploited in their jobs earning under minimum wage and working long hours with no benefits or health insurance. They are trapped in a horrible situation and are also often sexually abused by their bosses. Oftentimes, they have to submit or else they will be fired.

Lili also told me that it is quite common for men to have mistresses that they frequent or even prostitutes which greatly puts women at risk for developing diseases or other health problems. Generally, women are expected to produce a large family and sometimes if a woman refuses or tries to use contraception, she is beaten or even killed.

Mayan women have it even harder as almost 90% are illiterate and uneducated. Many Mayan children today still do not attend school further aggravating the problem. Most Mayans are very poor and live a hard life outside of the city in farming communities and villages. Although they still maintain a rich culture that has lasted for centuries, the life of a Mayan woman is quite hard.

Despite the law created in 2007 to protect women against violence, little has changed due to fear and a vicious cycle of being trapped in a culture that hasn’t changed much in regards to women’s rights. If a woman is poor, uneducated and has no job along with five or six children, how could she possibly leave her husband? She must accept the violence.

On a positive note, many groups have formed to help educate women on their rights and support women who suffer mentally and physically from abuse. Women have services available at their church and at local and governmental levels, if they choose to speak out. Furthermore, today was the largest demonstration and celebration of El dia de la mujur en Xela. There were women, girls and even men and boys all together, representing all walks of life. It is not only a Mayan problem. Violence and mistreatment of women is very common and happens to many Guatemalan women.

It is a tragic problem that will take some time to solve since it is so engrained in the culture. Lili believes that boys and girls must be educated at a young age that they are equal and they must treat each other with respect. That is the only way that women will ever have equal rights. Let’s hope all women can have the same rights as men and be treated fairly with kindness and respect!


Here are my photos from the spectacular celebration in Xela, as women from all walks of life came together to celebrate and fight for women’s rights, together as one.

A Mayan woman walking down the street.

Guatemala TRAVEL BY REGION