UNA fights for women’s equality

intl womens day

International Women’s Day poster made by UNA. Courtesy of Leticia Garcia.

By Zachary Wright
Staff Reporter

130 million women worldwide, college age and younger, do not have access to education currently, according to Dr. La Vonne Downey, the assistant professor of public administration. They live in areas around the world where women are not allowed pursue meaningful education in the classroom or simply don’t have the means to attend even primary education.

“What that means is they are doomed to a life of poverty,” said Dr. Downey. “Women are most impacted by poverty no matter what country they’re in, [even in] the United States. Sixty percent of people living in poverty and extreme poverty are women and children,” continued Dr. Downey.

Downey said women and children living in poverty does not just affect themselves, but the community around them also. This includes things like the lack of proper nutrition, lower secondary education access, lower literacy rates and higher mortality rates. These are just a few issues that UNA tries to change for the better by helping women and children in need worldwide.

On Friday, March 23, UNA hosted an event to celebrate the accomplishments of women worldwide, as well as to bring awareness to the number mentioned above.
“I think it’s very important to celebrate and honor women across the world after all their struggles and all they overcome,” said UNA President Leticia Garcia, who is majoring in international studies.

International Women’s Day was on March 8, but UNA celebrated on Mar. 23 because of spring break. International Women’s Day has been observed as an unofficial holiday since 1909 on Feb. 28 in New York. International Women’s Day is an official holiday in places like China, Russia, as well as several countries in Africa.

“I feel like we should celebrate women every day because their roles are so important,” Garcia said. “They’re not just women that can give birth, but they’re women that can really create and change the future.”

Event-goers listened to Dr. Downey’s speech about women worldwide. They gathered around tables, listening as if it was a lecture. Before Dr. Downey spoke, she had four female students discuss the countries they represented – Brazil, Cameroon, India and Palestine respectively.

Attendees also wrote signed letters urging senators to keep the foreign aid budget, where just 1 percent of the U.S federal budget goes to foreign aid. A large portion of this aid goes to health services, particularly communities affected by AIDS and HIV.

Dr. Downey said that UNA does not just educate women in the classroom, but helps them become leaders in their communities by teaching them essential medical skills amongst other skills that a community may need.

“They are the most in need,” Dr. Downey said. “If we focus our efforts on women and girls in countries, it has such a multiplier effect and such an impact on the economy.”

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