2011 VOF WEEK 3 - "VOICELESS..."
My barriers and challenges to creating change in my community would be tradition, poverty and high level of illiteracy in rural areas. When you live in a society like mine with strong beleifs in traditional practices and the beleif in the existence of the supernatural, it is very difficult to convince people and even fellow women that all practices that harm us are wrong.Many still habor the fear of the unknown , as these practices have been in existence without challenge for a very long time.High level of illiteracy in rural areas makes it very difficult to reach out through technology so access to those in the most affected areas requires extra effort on my part and also being there physically. For e.g how do you convince a family with no form of education, that female circumscision does not make a woman less promiscuous nor enhance her childbearing tendencies, when generations of women in their family have experienced it, moved on to be "good wives" and borne not less than six children each? or how do you expose the fact that early marriage exposes young girls to VVF and IVF ?
I did some research on Sex workers and their health seeking behaviours some years ago and the research revealed that apart from the local knowledge that condoms help protect individuals from unwanted pregnancy, HIV and contracting other diseases and the regular blood tests which can be done in neutral places to reveal state of health ; many of these sex workers have very poor health seeking behaviours, in the sense that many of them refuse to go to hospitals or clinics for the fear of stigmatization , judgement and critisism by the health workers who should be health providers. This also applies to HIV+ women who are sometimes afraid that once the health workers know they are HIV+, they assume it was contracted as a result of promiscuity.
If women decide to fight back, they need a strong support system to give them a voice to speak out for their rights and empower themselves too .
My solution would first be to reach out to more enlightened members of the areas affected areas and from there we can break it down to grassroot level by creating some form of education for these women to understand.Better opportunities for more people to have easier access to computers and the internet and also make blogging sites more user friendly in English or other languages would also be very helpful. As the saying goes knowledge is power.
I am lucky to have been blogging for some years now and I have successfully reached out through short stories, photography and poetry based on my reality to give people a clearer picture of some of the experiences of our women . I have have had people from other countries reach out to me based on a short story I wrote about a child widow.