“Global Issues” at Transforming Gender and Society 2018

Mike Brown

Locality, time poverty and context.

These issues, among others, were focal points of discussion at a lecture discussing global issues facing women on Saturday.

Sonja Lindberg, an Iowa State graduate student in rural sociology, spoke about the significance of time poverty and the impact it has on women in Uganda.

“I read a statistic on two different sources yesterday that said Ugandan women work 9 hours outside of their agricultural work hours each day, so that’s 9 hours going into the domestic sphere, taking care of children et cetera,” Lindberg said.

This time, poverty also harsly impacts the quality of both the health and education of women in underdeveloped nations, according to sophomore english major and fellow speaker Olivia Lehman.

Lehman detailed the hardships faced by women in countries facing a water crisis, including the fact that almost all water gathering in these nations is done by women.

According to Lehman, girls around the age of 15 often face the reality of not going to school, but starting each day at 6 a.m. to begin the process of walking miles carrying a 50 pound water bucket so their family may have access to clean drinking water.

Lehman further detailed how a lack of accessible water and sanitation methods can negatively impact the lives of women, with attendance for women in schools rising significantly if there is a water source within a mile of where they live.

Lehman also detailed the many negative health risks facing women who live in communities facing a water crisis, including permanent neck and spinal damage from carrying such heavy water containers on their heads multiple times a day.

In countries without proper sanitation, according to Lehman, women may also face difficulty in education when they begin menstruating. Women in these nations often face not only societal shame and stigma, but also a lack of proper sanitary resources necessary during menstruation leaving them at risk for possible infections.

Both Lehman and Lindberg stated that the gendered role of women in these societies to take responsibility left them disproportionately affected by the increased shortage of water and unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change, as well as increased risk of violence while walking such long distances to obtain water.

Lindsey Droste, speaker and Hawkeye Community College attendee, further discussed violence against women, specifically in refugee and immigrant communities, as well as resources provided by organizations such as Cedar Valley.

Droste emphasized the importance of recognizing that violence is defined and carried out differently among different cultural groups around the world, and in the United States refugee populations are especially at risk.

Droste spoke about the difficulties facing these populations when faced with abuse and the choice of whether or not to report and seek help. Factors that prevented these women from stepping forward included language and cultural barriers, as well as a fear of deportation.

Lack of employment, income insecurity and children can also be a factor keeping abused refugee women in cycles of abuse, according to Droste. Most centers will only allow children of a certain age to stay with the woman who comes to them, according to Droste.

Fear of leaving one’s children with their abuser, according to Droste, can often play a large role in women remaining in abusive situations.

Droste also spoke to the resources that crisis and support centers for women. She said that while these centers offer women many resources as well as assistance, anonymity, and education, they are often underfunded, and they often do not offer specific assistance or funding for refugee women to allow them to get out of abuse cycles.

According to Droste the current anti-immigration stance taken by the US government has also caused difficulty in obtaining proper support and funding to assist refugee women.

Context and understanding were also emphasized by Cori Hyde, an Iowa State doctoral student. Hyde focused her presentation on women’s empowerment on a global scale.

Hyde emphasized that women’s empowerment is ongoing and intersectional, has no stopping point and must always look to improve. Women, according to Hyde, can only claim empowerment for themselves, and they cannot recieve empowerment from an outside source.

Outside sources can, however, provide a context and a framework that facilitates women empowering themselves, according to Hyde.

The importance of context, according to Hyde, stemmed from the fact that there is no one blanket definition for empowerment. Hyde stated that the stories of all women must be listened to so empowerment can be defined on a more individual contextual level for different groups of women.

Hyde also spoke to the importance of inclusivity and intersectionality. According to Hyde, there is a problem in organization of focusing on “silos”, which were defined on focusing only on one issue within the greater context of gender.

Hyde stated that gender cannot be discussed exclusively and that to fully address the issue other intersectional perspectives such as race, class and religion.