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Women as a Voice for Change » Women's Courage

Women as a Voice for Change

March 7th, 2013 by burnett3 Leave a reply »

As we have heard many times in this class economies will be more productive if they include both genders and do no exclude 50% of their population.  Looking at women as a resource has economic advantages but they cannot be productive members of their communities without good heath. Heath, and more importantly equal access to healthcare, is at the center of human rights issues and poor health is often a byproduct of poverty and social inequities. Issues of violence, maternal mortality, malnutrition, all stem from the idea of women as a commodity rather than a resource. In many countries women are valued by their ability to reproduce more males and all other aspects of being human are overlooked including their heath. Once of the most effective way to change how women are valued is to give them a voice in the community. If women are part of the discussion of global issues, inequities and increasing female health outcomes will start to change. Viewing women as humans with independent voices in the global discussion rather than a commodity used for men is an essential step in resolving health and social inequities.

One example of this occurred in 1920 when women in the US got the right to vote. Politicians now catered to their enlarged electorate population and started to incorporate issues on child heath, public schools, and there was a decline in maternal morality as a result (1).  Allowing women to have a voice and be contributors will start the change needed to increase global access to health care. Women are slowly gaining traction in the public sphere, in 2011 women in Saudi Arabia were permitted the right to vote (although they have yet to vote in an election)(2). Although this is a great and progressive step I think it in an issue if women’s suffrage is still being debated rather than universally accepted. Including women politically and as community leaders is an essential step to bring women’s issues, specifically women’s health, to the forefront of discussion. I also think it is essential that female community and political leaders bring the necessary changes to their communities from the inside rather than having these changes imposed by international and foreign aid. It has been shown to change individual and community health outcomes and I think women themselves need to be involved in the discussion to be able to advocate for themselves.



  1. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_033.pdf


  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/25/saudi-arabia-women-vote-elections




  1. Katie says:

    Casey-this post did a great job of pointing out the fact of the matter when it comes to women’s representation and I think your statement about women “as a commodity rather than a resource” is a very precise and succinct way of defining the problem. I think history and cultural traditions perpetuate the commodity image and unfortunately I think it may take time for this image to change in the minds of some men, even with increased women’s participation. I think the role of women in sitting in elected government positions is just as important to consider as women having the vote. A few weeks back when my group was leading class, I talked about women’s role in Rwanda’s government following the genocide – they were forced to develop new skills, their contributions were recognized in the public space and they were more able to shape policy actions towards women’s and children’s welfare. Minus the genocide, it would be ideal if other developing countries could adopt a similar model of female leadership.

  2. KadesiaW says:

    Great question, Michelle! Thank you Casey for this post. I also agree with you. I think making sure that women have a voice is so important; after all, women know their needs better than anyone else. I also like the idea of this starting from a community level. Like the previous student comments, I too believe community efforts and movements are so powerful, garnishing support and eventually change.

  3. Michelle says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Casey! Who better than women to advocate for themselves in the political system? I also believe that effective change is not imposed but rather initiated within the community itself by indigenous leaders. What do you think would be the best way to ensure women have a voice? Implementing quotas for them in the political system? I think that while quotas might work, changing the perception of women as ‘too sensitive to be taken politically seriously’ must change.

  4. amanorot says:

    Your post resonates strongly with the mantra of International Women’s Day (Friday). I absolutely agree the world needs to begin viewing women as a resource than a commodity and giving women suffrage is one of the first steps to giving women a voice in society. I think the way we perceive women as a commodities and devalue women’s voices also stems from our media. If you get a few minutes I highly recommend watching this trailer for the film Miss Representation, http://vimeo.com/28066212. It struck me because it highlighted why progress for women is not as fast as it could be and I think it touches on some of the key points in your post especially why we have less women in leadership positions.

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