By Racy M. ’17
“When girls are empowered, it benefits all of us. Investing in girls is key to reducing poverty: Girls who receive an education marry later, have fewer children, and are more likely to get healthcare for themselves and their children. Every year of schooling increases a girl’s future earnings by 10-20%.” (Girl Up: Why Girls?)
As I read the chapter “Learning to Speak Up” in Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in our Global Issues class it made me think of my experience this past summer when I had the opportunity of going to the Dominican Republic through a program called “Rustic Pathways.” For sixteen days I helped build houses for members of the poorest communities. In one of the communities we visited, Monte Coca, there were three women who operated and owned their own soap factory. The communities in the Dominican Republic called “bateys” did not have a garbage truck to pick up all of their waste so the trash was thrown everywhere, which caused many diseases. These women took the initiative to get ingredients to make body wash, shampoo, and hand soap for the people in their community with their bare hands, and that is not an easy job. I, along with the other students I was traveling with, helped to mix the soap. This consisted of a four-foot-tall vat filled with various liquids being stirred with a six-foot wooden pole. Each person could only stir it for a couple minutes before getting tired, while these three women make soap all day. This really put into perspective for me how much work these women invest into making soap to help their families and friends. They sell these items to make money for themselves and to support their families while helping others as well.
Women in male-dominated cultures are taught to accept their position as the subjugated gender, but the women who stand up to this social norm are the ones who empower women around the world to do the same.