Dispelling Myths and Demanding Rights: The Women's Group Spring 2014 Session Launches

In his annual letter released late this January, Bill Gates highlights common myths about global aid- and what areas should be focused on more in the coming year. Through this letter, he also discusses how myths about women's empowerment and gender equality hinder global development. By addressing some of the key misconceptions about women's empowerment- such as the right to contraception and family planning- the letter seeks to dispel some of the common hindrances that keep progress from growing globally. IMG_6060

This week at TYO, we're seeking to tackle similar issues and obstacles to gender equality as we launch the Spring 2014 session of The Women's Group. Throughout the next ten weeks, we will work on dismantling some of the detrimental beliefs that keep women from rising here in Palestine. Whether it's discussing the immense danger of early marriage or emphasizing the importance of a girl's right to play, The Women's Group gives participants the opportunity to both gain knowledge, and discuss how to- or what would keep them from- taking action on that topic.

Here's a sampling of some of the issues we'll seek to cover this session, and how we're hoping to dispel some of the harmful beliefs that keep women from reaching new heights:

  • Early Marriage: In his annual letter, Bill Gates discusses that "girls who marry in their mid-teens tend to start getting pregnant earlier, and therefore have more children. They usually drop out of school, which limits their opportunities to learn about their bodies....and to gain other kinds of knowledge that helps improve their lives." In The Women's Group this session, we're working with local women's rights lawyers to explain the illegalities of anyone under 18 marrying in Palestine, while also emphasizing the severe health and emotional consequences of unhealthy, underage relationships. Further, we'll discuss ways that women can- and must- take action in their communities and refugee camps to change the mindset that early marriage is okay.
  • Right to Family Planning: Even if it sounds simple, a woman's ability to choose when, if,  and how many births is her most basic- and perhaps important- right. In his letter, Bill Gates explains both the economic and empowerment benefits of a woman who knows her reproductive rights. Yet many women globally- including Palestine- aren't aware of effective birth control methods and the health benefits of birth spacing. In this session, we will provide overviews on women's options- but also encouraging women to open this discussion in their homes.

In the coming weeks, stay tuned to learn more about how these topics are playing out in our talks in The Women's Group- and how we're dispelling myths as we move forward to demand gender equality in Palestine.

- Cayce is the WEP Coordinator at TYO. Above, she shares on the first week of The Women's Group.