Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” by Jared Walsh. Barcelona, Spain

The documentary Half the Sky was a very hard film to watch. It captured the very cruel realities that many women face on a daily basis. And one of the worst things about it is that it’s not localized in one area, but rather globally. The documentary covered ten different countries which all contained women who are oppressed their entire lives. Stories about sexual violence, prostitution, human trafficking and lack of proper health care and education represented a gruesome theme across all countries. It’s one thing to hear about issues like this from a post on Facebook or from a protestor in the streets. It’s a totally different thing to see individuals from countries such as Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Vietnam on screen telling their personal stories. A lot of it is difficult to even fathom. Women around the world are oppressed and treated poorly on a daily basis, denied their most basic human rights. This documentary’s main message is a slap in the face to the rest of the world who stands by and lets the global oppression of women just move on by. It’s both a call for help and a necessary of dose of awareness for those who watch it.

The story that impacted me the most was that of Edna Adana Ismail. She’s a strong woman who founded the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital. After the Somali Civil War, few medical personnel were left in the area. Maternal and infant mortality was astronomically high. Edna Adan saw the need for health care in the region and began to put a plan in motion for this hospital. The only land the government of Somalia only allowed her to use was a previous garbage dump zone. As the first Somali girl to study in Britain, she became a nurse-midwife. From then on is history, for she has used her political power and medical know-how to achieve great things. The fact that women have many less rights than men in Somalia and she was still able to create this hospital speaks to her power and drive. Since opening this hospital, she has helped thousands of women go through labor, has helped connect women with fistulas to surgeons that can remove them, and has campaigned against female genital mutilation. She’s a true hero within her community and is a role model for those to follow.

I think the reason that Edna’s story resonated with me is because of the fact that I’m going into the health care field. Even the most basic health care can be considered a luxury in some parts of the world. We see even in the United States that some are without health insurance and can’t always get the treatment they need. As a future physician assistant, it will be my duty to provide health care to all who require it, regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. This is something that I feel very strongly about; once I gain medical training, I hope to participate in bringing basic healthcare to third world countries. It’s a topic that Quinnipiac University also acknowledges too. A majority of the PA class in graduate school heads to a third world country every year to provide such health care. However I also feel that it is far too often an overlooked topic. Had I not seen this documentary, I would have known nothing about the suffering of many women and children in Somalia due to little maternal care. But that is precisely the reason for this documentary – to bring forward these issues that are of extreme humanitarian importance.


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