|E-Connections: June 2014|
Dear colleagues and friends,
TIAW’s primary focus has long been trained on the economic empowerment of women and girls through the avenues of entrepreneurship, leadership development and access to micro credit. We acknowledge that there are many pathways of empowerment, and one of the most fundamental is access to health care and the importance of well-being.
Indeed, of the eight original Millenium Development Goals set by the UN, the one on which the least progress has been made is in the reduction of maternal mortality (UN Women Annual Report 2012-2013). Maternal mortality is directly linked to lack of access to care but also to lack of health education and prevailing social norms. Social norms have been identified in the AGALI Economic Empowerment Report 2013 as one of six key factors affecting the economic empowerment opportunities of adolescent girls.
AGALI reports that one of the three main strategies currently being used by organizations working to promote adolescent girls’ economic advancement is education and training for life-skills and social support. Global Ambassador Yasmine Khater shares her perspective as she writes in this edition about her journey to balance a busy life with a healthy life. These are lessons girls everywhere need to learn too, so please pass it on!
We also know very well the devastating impact that violence against women has on their health and livelihood. Global Ambassador Jane Horan cites her perspective on the enormous economic, psychological and social costs that unfortunately are more heavily directed against women. The afore-mentioned UN Report affirms that this toll often goes unmeasured and even unrecognized.
Linking economic empowerment and social support is often unique to each country. As summarized in a joint UN/Exxon Mobil study, “Whether an intervention works depends on the economic situation of the woman and the context in which she lives. In high fertility, agrarian economies, for example, programs for women farmers need to be complemented by interventions seeking to reduce women's work and time burdens, including access to quality family planning and reproductive health services. In resource rich economies and small island nations, programs should seek to identify and develop domestic and niche export markets that are accessible to women producers”. You can read the entire study here.
The common thread throughout is simple. Gender rights are human rights. The societies that provide economic, social and political support to both genders in equal measure are those that will lead economic growth. TIAW has called for gender equality to be a standalone MDG in 2015, and we are not alone. The World Economic Forum defines gender equality in their Global Competitiveness Report as “that stage of human social development at which “the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of individuals will not be determined by the fact of being born male or female, in other words, a stage when both men and women realize their full potential”. I was pleased to read in the UN’s Millenium Development Goals: Beyond 2015 report a positive recognition and support for gender equality and it’s role in a sustainable world.
The key that unlocks all of these doors is awareness. It is my purpose in this and every edition of TIAW’s e-connections to provide portals to economic growth to each of you...it is your job to walk through (and take others with you).
Lisa Kaiser Hickey
Halima Namakula is a house-hold name in Africa and internationally for her beauty, talent and for her work in girls and women empowerment. Halima is Ugandan/American legendry singer and a Humanitarian, know by name, face, speech and action.
As a Musician, she has so far released five Albums, her first hit song “E’kimbeewo” released in 1999, became the number one song in Uganda for 13 weeks and was highly played in the UK Night clubs. Halima has turned a “low valued” profession into a “celebrity, top paying career” in Africa by managing, promoting and advocating policies to recognize artists as professionals. At her recording studio No-End Entertainment, she has mentored over 70 young musicians to sing, behave well, have positive values and positively impact their communities. Through music and drama, Halima has worked with several organizations to use edutainment (educating people through entertainment) to effectively communicate to communities about HIV/AIDS, Family Planning, Prevention of Malaria, Good Sanitation and Economic Development.
In 2003, Halima started Women At Work International, a Non-Government Organization with the vision of “A world free” where children and women are empowered to claim equal rights, access to health services, education, economic and socio-cultural opportunities.
Working with Program on Accessibility to health, Communication and Education (PACE) in 8 districts of Uganda, Halima spearheaded the Peer Education Program which resulted into Commercial Sex Workers moving off the street and learned basic measures of preventing HIV/AIDS, use family planning methods, got key leadership and entrepreneurship skills that have tremendously improved their livelihoods as dignified women.
Halima has developed various programs to mentor young girls including Hana Girls, a holiday camp for mentoring young women, and has supported the GO GETTERS program and the Rising Star Mentoring Program as a role model, mentor and motivational speaker.
Her latest project to empower women is the END-FISTULA PROGRAM. Virtually unheard of in developed countries, obstetric fistula (Latin for hole) is an affliction of the very poor, and is predominantly caused by neglected, obstructed labour resulting into a severe medical condition in which a hole (fistula) develops between either the rectum and vagina or between the bladder and vagina. For the last 2 years, Halima has organized funds to do national communication campaigns, lobby the government to provide budgets to health facilities and organized charity walks. These have resulted into raising awareness, reducing of fistula cases and mobilization of funds that have enabled over 400 women to be treated country-wide.
by Jane Horan
In celebrating the week of Women’s Health Care, President Obama noted that‘’as Americans we strive to be a nation of broad-based prosperity…” which includes access to affordable health care. In his address, Obama mentioned the challenges women continue to face: working hard, receiving less compensation and stretching pay cheques to cover costs. Health care is one the greatest social and economic challenges in the United States. Insurance companies today have fewer satisfied customers, with little tangible benefits and increasing costs.
Women’s Health Care Week raises awareness of access to health care, removing discrimination and increasing fees for previous conditions. The administration focuses on discrimination demonstrated in higher premiums or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions in women. This discussion makes sense and will benefit many.However, there is another form of discrimination which is ubiquitous and unconscious. Unconscious bias filters through health care institutions, and starts with the diagnosis. The biggest challenge with unconscious bias is the inability to see the individual patient outside of specific demographics, and serious health issues are often overlooked. Coronary heart disease is one example. Men and women often present different symptoms with cardiac problems. A backache, nausea or shortness of breath maybe interpreted as flu, a panic attack, overworking or under exercising. This bias requires a rethink, a throwback to old fashioned medicine–taking time to reflect, listen, question and observe the patient.
Sadly, heart disease is an equal opportunity killer, claiming the same number of lives annually. Heart failure continues to be one of the leading causes of death for women, sometimes misdiagnosed or misunderstood by patient and doctor. Yet it is preventable.
A recent New York Times article noted that scientists have called for an end to gender bias, and put measures in place for research institutes to use male and female lab animals, tissues and cells. The effects of gender equal research will certainly reap the benefits in years to come. Health care planning, research and policies, should refocus towards the benefits of prevention and well-being. Throughout the National Women’s Health Care Week (and into the future) medical institution providers should adhere to the fundamental principle of equality. Despite economic circumstances, women should have full access to health care in order to embrace healthier choices and lifestyles.
As the White House re-commits to improving health care benefits for women, unconscious bias training should be mandatory training across hospitals, clinics and in medical schools.
by Yasmine Khater
Leaving Singapore, I was burnt out by the intensity of my life, my job and especially the fast pace that sometimes made me feel that my busy-ness was on steroids.
The most amazing part of living in Spain is that it was the exact opposite of Singapore’s pace… It was significantly slower and it opened my eyes to a new way of life.
So when I moved back to Singapore, I had the intention of ensuring that my pace of life was under my control. But over the months, I quickly fell back in the mode that I have become uncontrollably busy. Was I trying to glorify my busy life? Was Brene Brown right when she said that if we’re not busy, we think our lives become less important? Was always being busy, another way for me to reinforce that I was not enough?
The Real Problem With Being Too Busy
When you meet someone who asks how you are, and you tell them that you are “Great, but busy” what are you actually saying? I know it can be a pickle; for example, I have a friend who works from home and her elderly neighbor would knock on the door five times a day, just to see if she’s busy, or to say hello – a sweet gesture, but completely untimely. She has now resorted to telling the neighbor that she’s busy, very, very busy, with the result that the knocking has decreased by about 25%. But my friend’s productivity levels have dropped as a result of increased agitation at the constant disruptions.
What happens in your mind when you say “I’m busy”?
The Law of Attraction says that whatever we put out there is what we receive more of. Do you want to have less time? Do you want to be overwhelmed? Do you want a great career and no “me” time?
That’s what you’ll get if you keep saying it – so say with me “I am not actually that busy!”
How I got to say that I’m actually not that busy!
Two weeks ago, I bumped into a friend, and of course when I asked him how he was, he said what I have been saying “Oh I am good, but super busy”. Hearing this, I decided to do a little experiment.
I decided to make myself a new mantra and test it out for two weeks, which I posted it up on bedroom wall.
I have replaced all the “I don’t have time”, “Everything is good, but so crazy”, and replacing that with “I have a lot on my plate and I will keep that in mind, but as of now it’s not a priority,” just to see if that made a difference.
I identified things that I didn’t enjoy doing and put them aside. I don’t check my personal mail very often now, because it’s not a priority. I also started taking myself out of projects that, although they were exciting, I didn’t have time for. The sole purpose of this is to ensure that I spend all my time on things that are priorities in terms of what I enjoy and that align with my core focus and passion – where I see my life heading.
In Psychology Today, using this kind of terms, because it generally is an inaccurate assessment of a situation and that prevents us from understanding what is actually happening on and how to fix it.
Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like the way we design our hour doing something we don’t like, then do something differently.
I’m still not actually that busy!
This week was more productive than ever. Other than my coaching calls, I was able have 4 coffee meetings with people I really wanted to connect with, and I finished my free business training on how to get more customers.
I let the creative process take its time – I allowed myself to go on walks, watch a couple of movies and just daydream. The best version of me is when I am not put into a corner, but when I have the space to express what I need to.
So what about you? Do you want to feel as fantabulous as I do? Then why not join me and be un-busy too. Next time someone asks you how you are doing, what do you say? “Awesome, I am actually not that busy.”
The latest issue of Dialogue focuses on Big Data and the promise and peril it brings for leaders in a world where change is accelerating and competition is intensifying, including comment and contributions from Google, American Express, Cisco and renowned business thinker Roger Martin. The May issue is available here.
Also in Dialogue:
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