In about a week’s time I’ll be in Asia. Not for a fun trip or a holiday or a chance to get a taste of Asian spicy cuisine (which is on my to do list anyways), but I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with about 5000 others to start some real talk about the way forward for women and girls’ health worldwide. The Women Deliver 3rd Global conference will bring together about 5000 activists, policy makers, donors, and grassroots organizers (like myself) to move the discussion further into action and set commitments towards advancing the health of women and girls.
But why girls’ health?
Because by virtue of her sex, she is the reproductive light of tomorrow with an entire generation depending largely on her. Because she is a girl, a mother, a first educator of the child, usually the bread winner. Because in a war zone, she’s more likely to get assaulted sexually. She is more vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and rape. Because the health of her children will depend on her health first. Because she is more vulnerable to disease and her access to health services/infrastructure has not been properly addressed.
Because failure to meet her health needs is exposing future generations to other countless risks. Because her future depends on her health.
I’ll be attending in the position of one of the 100 young leaders selected by Women Deliver to represent the voices of young people around the world who are committed to advancing the health and rights of women and girls. I’m attending because I see the realities each day and the huge sufferings that women have to endure just because they are women. I will be attending because I have watched a girl’s life turn around because she has been denied access to sexual and reproductive health services, and because she has been abused several times, she thinks it’s normal. Because she has been forced to live with HIV for the rest of her life but has no access to ARV because it is out of stock this month. I will be attending because I want to watch the policy-makers give explanations for this. I am attending because I want to see a global walk-the-talk movement post WD 2013.
But the question remains – how would my involvement in this conference improve the life of that woman in rural Cameroon with no access to health services nor the income to feed her family? Or that girl forced into motherhood and matrimony with no say in the decision whether or when to have a child? I say these are the problems I will personally be showcasing. These are the proposals I will be putting forward as a young person and these issues raised will form part of the baseline for advocacy at the international level and a start point to garner commitments towards making women’s health a reality.
Sound like a lot for just 2 days…but trust me, It’s gonna happen!
To read more about Mallah and her project United Vision, click here