In this world there are traditional practices that make life for some women more difficult. In some areas of the world, girls as young as four are betrothed, leave their homes and some take part in intercourse before they are yet teenagers.
Warning Over 137 million women have undergone female circumcision, they have experienced extreme pain and undue suffering, complicating pregnancy and childbirth. There may be immediate haemorrhage, retention of urine, infections such as tetanus or HIV. Then follows dysparunia, difficult menstruation, difficult child birth and consequent vaginal fistula, as well as in some cases, maternal death. In many parts of the Muslim world this practice continues rampantly. Men will not marry a woman who has not been circumcised and woman fear being unmarried, creating a cycle of life threatening practises. Where there is poverty, contraception and pregnancy are poorly monitored, many girls are missing school because sanitary pads are lacking and a severe lack of privacy in schools for managing menstruation breeds potentially harmful misinformation. Whilst care of the breast has improved, a focus on breast cancer has led to a debate about the cost effectiveness of Breast Clinics and anxiety about body image has greatly increased breast reduction and the technology and safety of implants. In Saudi Arabia where 69% of women are overweight, girls are banned from participating in sports in state schools by the Supreme Council of Religious Scholars, contributing to the obesity epidemic.
Action Setting up vulva clinics by dermatologists, rather than as a branch of venereology or gynaecology, has made a big impact in the last 20 years and continues to improve the lives of many women globally.
It is essential the momentum for empowerment of women is not lost as we strive for greater promotion of women professionals in senior and academic posts. This will allow a greater spread of rights for women in areas of the world most in need of it, which will in turn implement a more effective use of micro-finance by women in the Developing World.