by LAUREN SCHUSTER, Social Media Editor
Snacks, friends and the opportunity to learn more about the struggles of women in foreign countries brought together a group of students for a Dining for Women movie night this past Thursday, Jan. 31. The film shown, titled “Half the Sky,” allowed students to hear and see first hand accounts of women’s lives around the world.
Junior Shannon Forty and sophomore Ireland Twiggs, who head the Manhattan College chapter of Dining for Women, presented the film in hopes that their fellow students could get a more global view of the issues harming women today.
“This film was recommended to us by Kathleen [Von Euw] from [Campus Ministry and] Social Action so then we watched it and we thought it was awesome, just because it really ties in well with Dining for Women’s whole mission, and it’s just about exposing people in the U.S. to issues that women and girls in the developing world face and they just did a really good job,” Forty said.
The first portion of the film that was shown focused on the struggles that young girls face when trying to get an education in Vietnam. In Vietnam, it is common for girls to end their education at some point in their middle school years. Going on to high school, let alone college, often requires a great deal of dedication. This can include biking for miles to get to school, balancing work and school to keep their families from going hungry, coping with a lack of support from family members and more.
“I think the education in Vietnam [portion] was really powerful, just hearing their stories of the amount of pressure and just the stress and the importance that education can really, totally change your life,” Forty said. “That was just really awesome to see. We hear about it a lot, but it’s just so true.”
The second portion of the film that was shown took place in Somaliland and dealt with the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) there. Usually at some point between the ages of seven and nine, young girls will be rounded up in a group by an older woman in the community, taken into a separate hut, bound by their legs and then painfully mutilated.
“I’m a peace studies major, so I have a lot of classes that involve human rights infractions and I’ve heard of FGM but I never realized the consequences it had specifically on menstruation, on giving birth,” Twiggs said. “So, I never realized how directly connected it was and I think seeing women die trying to give birth and who don’t have access to the knowledge involving reproductive rights really hit me, so that moment for me was really eye opening.”
Senior Adaeze Obinelo, one of the students who attended the screening, also found the footage to be very eye opening.
“Definitely the piece on FGM stood out a lot,” Obinelo said. “I’m kind of aware of the subject, but it’s just different actually seeing in real time how it affects childbirth and stuff like that.”
For Obinelo, learning about social issues that don’t personally affect you is an important way to expand your knowledge of the world around you.
“I think people should be aware of opportunities to gain perspective from other places and become aware of things that maybe aren’t affecting them, but other people could benefit from their involvement,” Obinelo said.
Going forward, Twiggs and Forty hope that even more members of the MC community will come to their events to learn about the experiences of and offer support to women and girls in developing nations.
“We just want to say that even though it says ‘Dining for Women’ as the title of the organization, the ‘for’ is emphasizing who we’re doing it for, it doesn’t mean that women are the only ones who are allowed to dine,” Forty said. “So we would love to invite all the gentlemen to come and also it’s open to faculty and not just students, so everyone is welcome.”