Travel Log 11: Holding up Half the Sky. Madeline Eldredge; Cork, Ireland

The overall message that I would convey to my friends and family regarding the documentary Half the Sky is that in order for women to become powerful, they need to be empowered by the people surrounding them. It is a depressing thought that there are females of all ages that have been told that their dreams and aspirations are nonexistent solely due to the fact that they are females. It is also quite unfortunate that most of these females have their futures, major decisions, and fates are already decided for them. I would explain to my friends and family how absolutely fortunate we all are for the outstanding healthcare that we receive, in comparison to less fortunate countries examined in Half the Sky.

edna adan

This is an image of Edna Adan outside of her hospital.

One women’s story that impacted me in a particular way was the piece about female genital mutilation and Edna Adan. Edna Adan was the first Somali girl to study in the United Kingdom and became Somalia’s first qualified nurse-midwife. The fact that she built an entire hospital, the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, from scratch but takes little credit for the structure, saying that the community built it and not just her, says a lot about her character. In Somalia, it is an unfortunate fact that female genital mutilation, or “female cutting”, is still widely practiced. It is completely harmful to their bodies and results in serious physical and psychological health consequences. This inhumane act is motivated by the belief that it will keep the girls chastised and illicit sexual acts. Being a nurse-midwife, Edna is faced with mutilations on a daily basis and will visit different villages to promote ceasing female cutting due to the side effects. In her hospital, she provides women with the health and care they need and deserve while delivering babies to mothers who have undergone the mutilations. What I found most inspiring about Edna is that she is also a mentor and trains nurses and midwives and was looking to send them to the more isolated areas of Africa where their expertise is necessary in order to bring down the substantial death influx from the lack of medical centers and healthcare in Africa.

In correlation to the interacting ABC components, Edna portrayed many emotions, was taking strong action and had many thoughts. For affect (A), the biggest emotion that she showed was hopefulness. She was fearful for the future of the women in Africa but shows immaculate bravery and fearlessness when fighting for the rights of women and their sexual health. Adan also showed anger towards those who believe that female genital mutilation is a healthy choice to make considering that most of the people making these decisions are men. For behavior (B), Edna trains and creates nurses and midwives in order to better the quality of healthcare and the medical facilities in Africa where places need them the most. She also promotes the idea of ending female genital mutilation by outlining the risk factors associated with it. Edna also does everything that she can to ensure the comfort and safety of her patients even when she knows that their future is grim. For her thoughts (C), Edna wholeheartedly disagrees with the idea of female cutting due to the health complications along with personal experiences that she has endured.

Edna Adan’s story spoke to me because she is doing everything that she can to increase the quality of healthcare in Africa. She faces disappointment everyday but still manages to see the brighter side of situations. Going into nursing after I graduate, I hope to develop the same attitude towards the profession that she has created over time. I have always had a thought of going into the women’s health side of nursing and after watching this documentary, I am almost positive of this decision.

image from:


2 thoughts on “Travel Log 11: Holding up Half the Sky. Madeline Eldredge; Cork, Ireland

  1. The great thing about the documentary was that it opened our eyes to the different forms of abuse against women in a lot of different countries throughout the world. The bad thing about it was how appalling all of it was. It’s due to people like Edna Adan that there still is hope for people in these nations. People like Edna want to learn and better the places where they come from and fight for causes they care about. Hopefully other people will watch this documentary and will want to join the fight against these atrocities.


  2. It’s interesting that you said that Edna’s story impacted you the most, because I felt the same way. What she was doing in their country in terms of providing care to women was absolutely amazing. Further, I like that she was willing to share her knowledge, as you mentioned, and train lay people on some basic skills of delivery to help provide better care in rural areas. The tradition of female cutting in these countries is very horrifying and almost unthinkable to me, but it is hard to totally understand a foreign culture when looking in from the outside. I am glad that there are people like Edna in these places trying to educate the citizens and women about their health, it makes have a great since of hope in our world.


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