Year of the Female Voice


(Photo/Stuart Ramson)

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Yesenia Lugo is a 2014 UNA-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow. View her blog here.

As I sat in my chair and watched different women take the stage at the 2014 Social Good Summit, I started thinking about the event hashtag and what it really means to me: #2030NOW. I wanted to hear something different, a new piece of information to rally behind. Out of the many incredible and diverse female panelists and speakers, only three women really stood out to me: Al Jazeera Host Femi Oke, Midwife Victoria Shaba and Brain Scientist Jill Bolte Taylor. I saw the power of digital activism and hope people will continue to raise awareness and share the stories heard at the Summit. My wish is to humbly convey the impact they had on me:

1. Femi Oke

As moderator for the dynamic panel on Innovation and Maternal Health, Oke proved herself to not only be a gracious moderator but most importantly able to engage the audience’s attention with humor and class on the simple ways to change lives. Like everyone watching her speak, I made a mental note to join the cause to call for action on maternal and child health. Oke kept the discussion on how improving maternal health is to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and even though maternal deaths have dropped 45% worldwide since 1990, there’s still work to be done. In addition, this issue is also tied to to another MDG: reducing child mortality, where it was mentioned that 17,000 children continue to die every day before their fifth birthdays.

To end the panel, Oke asked about the near future. “We have less than 500 days left to achieve the MDGs. What is even possible in that time?” Femi asked.

Thank you for keeping it lively and informative!

2. Victoria Shaba

Three words: Penguins Saves Lives! “This thing, the penguin, can save babies,” Shaba stated. “And it’s easy to do it, even for midwives in rural, hard-to-reach areas. They can use the penguin to suck the “obstructions” from the baby’s mouth and nose.” This tool is essential for midwives to save a newborn’s life.

Working with Save the Children in Malawi, Shaba brought forth the issue that “penguins” are not readily available to women in every particular area, which forces many midwives to improvise during childbirth. Due to this practice, the rate of the life of a newborn is greatly reduced and can even cost a newborns’ life.

I enjoyed hearing how Shaba trains midwives and the uses of a penguin!

3. Jill Bolte Taylor

The Brain Lady: world famous neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, spoke about how we are all “energy beings having an energy experience,” which I believe to interpret as a great way to describe the experience of attending the Social Good Summit. We all have the power to choose who we want to be in the world. What are you doing with your power?

In my early years, I was never one to excel in the sciences, but Dr. Taylor’s presentation proved the exception, as I paid careful attention and finally learned a thing or two about my brain. For example, did you know that staying angry for more than 90 seconds is just you rethinking the thought that made you angry? And our right brains don’t know where we end and others begin. In addition, the Left brain says, “I’d rather be right than happy” and the Right brain says, “I’d rather be happy than right.” Basically, we are “feeling” creatures who think and we have a growing global consciousness to seek change.

I hope my thoughts will help my readers understand and push for awareness about these women and the causes they hold dear. It is a passion of mine to inform little girls about these women and why they should see them as role models
“Women do 66% of the work, make 50% of the food, earn 10% of the income and own just 1% of the land” – via Connie Britton. Don’t put us in the corner anymore! #2030NOW

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