This is Liz Fortier, a Girls’ Globe blogger from the USA who is currently residing in South Korea. Liz has a Master’s of Public Health degree and has extensive experience from a range of countries around the world. Liz has consistently been invested in the health of marginalized populations and improving access to health care for those living in poverty. She is also a Certified Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor. Read Liz’s blog posts and follow her on Twitter @LizAFort.
Why do you blog for Girls’ Globe?
I blog for Girls’ Globe because of how much safer, healthier, and more innovative the world would be if girls and women had access to the same opportunities as men and boys. If more communities invested in girls, the global economy would be stronger, women would face less exploitation and oppression, people would be healthier, and the world would be safer.
I want to change negative views held toward women and feminists. I want to clear up misconceptions about the struggle women and girls face worldwide, even in communities in the US where many people think gender equity exists, but it really doesn’t. I think a new global perception of women is needed to create gender equity. Girls’ Globe articles shed light on the inequality women face today and what can be done to change it.
What led you to become an advocate for women’s & girls’ issues?
There are a lot of things that led me to become an advocate for women and girls. I was always told I could do anything or be anything. Being a girl did not mean that I had less opportunity. I always challenged boys and never felt a lack of confidence in my abilities next to a boy. When I started realizing that there was a difference in opportunities for girls and boys around the world and in my own country and even my community, I was disgusted. I became invested in learning about women’s inequality, and I knew I had to do something to advocate for women after…
- traveling to Mexico and learning that many women there do not have access to contraceptives, appropriate reproductive health care, or acknowledgement of and care for HIV (that they may have contracted from their husbands).
- traveling to South Africa and talking with women who have experienced domestic violence and who are forced to stay with their abusive husbands for financial support.
- seeing a two-year old girl at an orphanage in Cape Town who couldn’t walk because she had been raped.
- hearing a man in Cape Town say women are consenting to sex if they say yes to a man offering to buy her a drink.
- walking by the same brothels in Kalighat, Kolkata, India, that Nicholas Kristof did in the Documentary Half the Sky.
- seeing a woman with a deformed face in a Missionaries of Charity House in India who was purposely burned by her husband because he wanted a new wife.
- learning that women intravenous drug users are at a higher risk of injury and death than male drug users because of gender roles.
- learning about FGM!
- watching the documentary “Very Young Girls” (Read Liz’s blog post about it).
I am an advocate for women and girls because I want to make sure every girl can be whatever she wants to be or do anything she dreams of, and I want to make sure she knows it. If girls know this, the world will be a better place for everyone!
What do you think are the biggest challenges and the greatest successes?
The biggest challenge of being an advocate for girls is standing up to the status quo that says women are inferior. For some women it is actually life threatening to stand up for themselves or call themselves a feminist. Since I am lucky to live in a place where I feel safe being a feminist, the biggest challenge for me is convincing people with very ingrained attitudes (this includes cultural and religious beliefs) that women are not actually second-class citizens. Even though this is a challenge I think it is the most exhilarating part of being an advocate for women. I must constantly learn new things, which is fun and important. I love a good debate, and it feels great when I prove to someone else the importance of investing in women and girls.
The biggest success of advocating for women is the impact of social media. Because of online platforms women’s voices are being heard! I strongly believe the gender equity will be accomplished globally, but it is happening more rapidly because of social media. I am so proud to be a part of Girls’ Globe and have the opportunity to influence the perspective of so many people on women’s issues. I hope I am creating more and more feminists everyday!
Why do you think the Girls’ Globe community is important?
The Girls’ Globe community is important because it is a portal of information. It is a place where women and girls can learn that they are not inferior despite what their community and others may say. Girls’ Globe allows girls to become empowered through reading stories of others overcoming oppression. Additionally, Girls’ Globe provides different ways for anyone to get involved in creating gender equity, which is such a big part of the fight. Girls’ Globe is a place for girls to learn about themselves and understand that they can change the world!