Gillian Sorensen, senior adviser to the UN Foundation, talked at the Foster Auditorium in the Paterno Library about “Empowering Women in a Changing World.”
She started her lecture by explaining the roles of the United Nations and how they try to deal with worldwide problems that affect women. The United Nations has many functions, but one of the things that they focus on is equal rights of women and men.
“We understand each other across borders to let women know that they are not alone,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen also commented about the issues that face women around the world. Some of those issues include poverty, education and health, she said.
“Here, 50 percent of the women go to medical school, but in other parts of the world that is a luxury,” she said.
Women around the world also struggle with illiteracy so there is a need for trained teachers.
“Illiteracy is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that they are stupid. When there is no literacy, there is no sense of assurance that you can take care of yourself,” Sorensen said.
The United Nations is trying to educate people so they can change their way of living and also learn things such as having too many children at a young age can be lethal. Sorensen said that women should try to wait a few years to have another child to have more chances of living.
Julie Rowland, a third year law student, said Sorensen explained how issues are interconnected and in other countries there is a lot of work that needs to be done.
Other problems that women experience are AIDS, how to protect themselves and domestic violence.
She mentioned that domestic violence is common everywhere including the United States. Hitting women is very common and there is a need to change that, she said.
She also mentioned that rape has become a weapon of war. She said it’s outrageous how sometimes there are multiple rapes, and the UN is trying to change that.
A common problem in some countries is infanticide. Some countries prefer boys, so girls become “the disappeared girls,” Sorensen said.
“They disappear because they are neglected, buried or not fed. It is a decision of their parents to do that, but how do we communicate that girls are as lovable as boys?” she said.
To change these issues, she encouraged students to study abroad for a long period of time.
“By studying abroad I don’t mean going two weeks to Cancun,” she joked.
Studying abroad will help students to understand what it means to be elsewhere and be out of their comfort zone, Sorensen said.
“Studying abroad in third world countries may give a good idea about the world poverty and how much they need help,” attendee Mita Shewakramani said.
Sorensen urged audience members to use their time to help others.
“We all have the ability to make a difference, we may do it oversees or later on,” Sorensen said.
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