Rx 35 Seeing Through the Eyes of the Heart

Dr. S.D. Shanti

We can see not only through our eyes but also through our hearts. It is a skill that we can cultivate and grow and that will enrich our lives and those of others. Coming Soon: via Zoom, a workshop on how to see through your heart. Please message me via the contact form for details if you are interested in attending or would like me to present this to your organization. Sliding scale registration.

Rx 29 Support Women and Women’s Groups

Dr. S.D. Shanti

The world is filled with seemingly impossible challenges: wars, conflict, environmental degradation, interpersonal violence that affects one in every three women in the world, and the list goes on and on…

So where can we even begin to find hope and the possibility of change when problems are on a giant scale?  The answer lies in women and women’s groups. 

When I was a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University, I developed my innovation framework for violence prevention; this was reviewed by the Violence Prevention Alliance of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the NGO I founded was admitted to the alliance on the basis of the science behind the methods. 

One of the pillars of my innovation framework is the power of women and women’s groups around the world. You most certainly have seen the power of women’s groups and their ability to successfully carry out health promotion and social change efforts; it is quite possible you may have benefitted from it in some way. 

The WHO recommends empowering women with health information because of the pivotal role we play in caring not only for ourselves but also for our families and our communities.  

But what exactly is the force that underlies women’s ability to overcome odds and improve conditions in the world?  

When women and women’s groups work together to improve conditions in the world – this is love in action; it is one of the keys to overcoming seemingly impossible odds, and creating a better world today, and a better future for our children and grandchildren. 

The next time you wonder how to make sense in a world that appears senseless and how to find hope in a world that feels hopeless, remember the power of women and women’s groups. Therein lie the seeds of hope, and love is the life-force contained within the seeds. I invite you recognize this and support women and women’s groups today, especially on International Women’s Day, but also everyday.

Rx 24 Eradicate Female Illiteracy

Dear Readers,

Today is International Women’s Day.

It’s the perfect day to reflect on the progress women have made in the world, and to also reflect on what remains to be done.

The ability to read and write is something most of us take for granted. But it is a skill that is out of reach for millions of people, especially women and girls.

Just as we can eradicate diseases through vaccines and proper hygiene, we can eradicate illiteracy rapidly in the world- through focused and concerted action.

Literacy is a social vaccine that confers many benefits including: participation in the workforce; reduction of marginalization and associated psychological distress; reduction of risk of human trafficking; and improvement in the health of individuals and nations. It is also a proven pathway out of poverty.

Unfortunately, education is not viewed as “urgent” when it comes to various health and social agendas. It’s just not sexy. Thus it is not aggressively pursued in the same way politicians and other decision makers pursue the development of vaccines against infectious diseases.

However, education is crucial for good health and is one of the foundations for a strong society. Literacy falls under the rubric of “social determinants of health,” i.e. non-medical factors that have a significant impact on health and which can account for anywhere from 30-50% of health outcomes.

Women’s literacy is associated with reduced risk of violence in the family, reduced risk of trafficking and increased participation in civic and community activities.

When people, especially women and girls can read and write, individual lives are transformed. Families are transformed. And ultimately nations and our entire planet are transformed – for the better.

Some years ago, I was interviewed at Northwestern University in Chicago, following a talk, on how to eradicate female illiteracy, that I gave at a global health conference there. Here’s the link if you would like to read a bit more about this topic.

Those of us who can read and write are among the lucky and privileged.

Please consider joining me in making this basic human right accessible to all. In so doing, you will contribute toward: reducing dire poverty; ending the global epidemic of violence which affects one in every three women around the world; and reducing the risk of human trafficking which is occurring at sickeningly high numbers.

I’ve already developed a road map for eradicating female illiteracy in this world. I developed it during a fellowship at Stanford University and it’s been peer-reviewed by experts. Additionally, with help from a few students at Stanford, I developed and piloted an awareness and fundraising event that is ready for scaling across colleges and universities around the world.

What I lack are people to help me get the word out and mobilize support so we can rapidly eradicate female illiteracy, and through that, improve lives. Even just a few minutes of your time will make a difference – when you lend your voice to collective action.

If you have not already signed up for the mailing list, please do so. This way we can keep in touch and you can stay updated about next the steps.

I would also be grateful if you might consider inviting your friends to sign up and keep informed about this and other Prescriptions for Hope.

Together, we can eradicate female illiteracy.

I look forward to hearing from you, and look forward to the day when we will create a world where everyone, including women and girls everywhere will be able to read and write.

Dr. S.D. Shanti

Rx 20 Improve the Social Determinants of Health to Help Create Lasting Change

By Dr. S.D. Shanti, ©2020, Photo by  Mariana Carvalho  on  Scopio

People are protesting and rioting. Companies are issuing statements about diversity and inclusion. Individuals and businesses are making donations to non-profit organizations that support African-American people. And social media is trending with people stating they are allies.

But what more can be can be done if we are to create lasting change? What more must be done to correct structural inequalities?

Some of the answers to this question include ensuring access to health care and good schools for everyone. It is also important to eliminate food deserts and make grocery stores accessible to all. These solutions can be grouped under a broad category known as social determinants of health. They are essential for ensuring good health for individuals, communities and nations.

Social Determinants of Health, Image from HealthyPeople.gov

This short video below, originally intended for persons in the health care professions, describes social determinants of health. However, the message is relevant to anyone who wants to address inequalities in society. Addressing the social determinants of health will improve health outcomes and quality of life for everyone. It is also one sure way to help reduce structural inequalities.

Improving living conditions is one of the keys to creating lasting change and overcoming inequality.