Gender Dialogues wrote -IHEID Gender Dialogues at the Graduate Institute of Geneva is organizing an event in May 2014, inspired by the globally known ‘Walk a Mile in her Shoes’, where men (and women) dress up and show their dedication to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. By literally walking a mile in women’s shoes, they symbolically take a stand.
Instead of marching a short distance, we will be running in the Geneva Marathon in matching shirts promoting gender equality. Through prior outreach to media, our attention-seeking outfits, and a promotional video, the 72 dedicated runners aim to raise awareness on gender issues in Geneva and beyond.
Additionally, the runners will be raising funds for the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, Congo, to perform fistula operations for women who have survived traumatic sexual violence or obstructed labor. A fistula occurs when a woman withstands brutal rape (many times involving weapons and sharp objects, with the goal of tearing internal organs) or days of obstructed labor (where a baby's head is pushing against her pelvic bone during contractions, preventing blood flow and causing tissue to die). Both of these scenarios create a hole - or 'fistula' - between a woman's vagina and her bladder or rectum. If the woman lives through this experience, she will be leaking urine and sometimes feces, and she is commonly rejected by her husband and shunned by her village because of her foul smell and inability to bear additional children.
Although an estimated 2 million women live with untreated obstetric fistula, it's unlikely for these women to meet or hear of anyone else suffering from the same injuries, because of the lack of modern forms of communication and also the women's reluctance to discuss the condition. In most cases, a woman with a fistula does not know what a fistula is or that it is even treatable with surgery. And if she does know of her medical condition, she is often far from an equipped hospital and is not able to pay the $450 USD fee for fistula repair surgery and postoperative care.
Fistulas can be repaired with delicate surgery, which has a good success rate. However, surgeons must be well-trained in the principles of the operation, and good follow-up care is essential. Fistula centers rely entirely upon donations to treat patients. For this reason, we have chosen to support the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, DRC. Our vision is that each runner raises at least $100. With our group of 72 runners, this should translate into a total amount of $7,200, or 16 fistula repair operations.
Please consider supporting us in this worthwhile fundraiser. While your contribution to this event may seem small, the impact it will have on the lives of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is tremendous.
Our sincerest thanks,
IHEID Gender Dialogues