Identifying as a woman comes with particular barriers and concerns. And whether or not you identify as one, International Women’s Day is an opportune time to become aware of the top issues women face and ways to help.
According to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (targets to improve the conditions of the world’s most impoverished people), sexual and reproductive freedom is a prerequisite to all goals.
The World Health Organization examines the way gender roles can severely impact health outcomes and affect the fulfillment of physical, mental and social health. Across many societies, women are disadvantaged to varying degrees by discrimination ingrained in sociocultural factors, and that can inhibit access to health care. Women are often refused access to reproductive and sexual health care and services, which is a human rights violation.
At Clue, we’ll be working this International Women’s Day because it’s our job to support and empower women every day — and you can too. Here are some largely female-related issues and organizations working to improve the state of these respective matters. You can contribute to helping the lives, and securing the rights, of women around the world by donating to any of the following causes:
About half of the world’s population experiences roughly 40 reproductive years with a menstrual cycle, yet menstruation is still commonly considered a taboo topic. Having a menstrual cycle requires access to affordable and safe products, as well as education on fertility and hormonal changes. The uterus is also susceptible to specific conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Unfortunately, many people are deprived and suffer because of lack of information, inability to manage menstruation and shame surrounding a normal bodily process. When these cycle-related problems are not addressed they can lead to severe pain, stress, school dropouts, infections and more (1, 2).
While being sexually active can be exciting, it’s important to be aware of the complications associated with unprotected sex: infections, unintended pregnancy and disease. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women in less developed areas and is caused by the sexually transmitted virus human papilloma. Gynecological services can provide preventative vaccines, STI/STD screenings, treatments and contraception. Education, routine Pap tests and checkups are essential to maintaining individual reproductive health.
Pregnancy and childbirth can come with risks that require substantial medical attention, including ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. Maternal mortality refers to death caused by pregnancy complications, such as unsafe abortion, severe bleeding, delivery complications and high blood pressure. Reproduction is the foundation of all people, so everybody deserves access to thorough reproductive care.
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to procedures that partially or totally remove external female genitalia, or other injuries to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The reasons why FGM is performed are deeply rooted in gender inequality: inflicting harm upon women to control their sexualities and ensure their subordination to men. According to the United Nations Population Fund, around 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, and that number is increasing with population growth. FGM has severe consequences including damaging psychological effects, sexual pain and dysfunction, complications during childbirth, damage to the urethra and more.
Honor violence is a type of abuse that hurts, shames or kills women and is condoned by their family. Honor violence is enforced through many forms including physical or emotional abuse, sexual assault, rape, kidnapping, and in extreme cases murder and forced marriages. Unlike an arranged marriage — when a couple agrees to be set-up in hopes of fostering a healthy relationship — a forced marriage is when a woman is threatened and/or coerced by her family to enter a marriage against her will, and a woman may suffer honor violence if she resists. FGM can also be considered honor violence.
Assault and abuse
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Women Against Violence Against Women
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
- Girls Not Brides
Rape culture is the way society normalizes male violence against women and victim blaming. Male aggression towards women is influenced by patriarchal society and perpetuates oppression; it’s indicative of asserting power and control over women. It’s crucial to reform gender relations through attitude and education, and expand resources that support survivors from all forms of mistreatment such as rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.
Transgender people are those whose gender identity is different from the gender/sex they had at birth. Transiting genders can be a daunting process that might entail intense psychological, physical and social obstacles. Transwomen are assigned male at birth, and because of that face inequalities due to transphobic discrimination and harassment.
Whether or not you’re striking for International Women’s Day, you can support women’s issues every day.