by Anielka Medina, Executive Director
I feel women in the communities where we work are always so limited because there is no gender equality. Every day I witness girls beginning life as a woman between the ages of 14 and 17 years old. Such young girls assuming roles as housewives.
After taking on this role, the women face the constant fear of being abandoned by their partners, since they do not have a salary or title of property that allows them to live a life outside of marriage. Typically, the man is the landowner and therefore he has control of everything.
Women in these communities assume there are no other options besides domestic and reproductive work. In consideration of the limited outlook, they suffer constant domination by their husbands. Unfortunately, it leads to an unhealthy mental and physical life. The precarious lifestyle of the women is inherited by the children, and ultimately the cycle is born that we witness everyday.
According to reports provided by SILAIS in 2011 (the Nicaraguan regional ministry of health), the highest incidence of cervical cancer in Nicaragua is in the municipality of Matagalpa. It is for this reason The Lily Project chose to work in the Matagalpa area. However, the problem goes much deeper than just the stats.
When talking to community leaders in Rancho Grande, Matagalpa, about machismo and its impact on the high stats, many men are very open about not allowing their partners to attend gynecological exams. The reality is that many women are suffering a silent death for fear of jealous husbands.
Starting up a conversation with a woman in the community is a huge challenge for the team, as they are extremely shy and afraid of strangers. The women’s suffering is reflected in every look, every word, and often times a forced smile. When I'm in the middle of the group of women and I am talking, I feel their silent gazes for help..
We want every woman to believe they are able to make decisions about their lives, about their health, so that their children can grow up without the pain of loosing their mother and with the knowledge that they are strong, capable individuals.
Help us to convey the message to all women that a good decision about your life can make a difference to the future generation!