Keziah Wanjiru Sullivan spoke passionately to a crowded Simplot Ballroom about her experiences in women’s oppression on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Originally from a small village 60 miles outside of Nairobi, Kenya, Sullivan began by stating that the number of people in the room was “about three times the size of the village in which I was raised.”
Boise State Campus Read hosted the presentation based on the 2013-2014 campus read: “Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
Blaine Eckles, a committee co-chair for the Campus Read program, said the book chosen each year “is designed to encourage students to continue to read outside of the classroom, to help compliment and supplement what they are learning in the classroom.”
Sullivan said the “highly complex and sensitive subject” of women’s rights is felt around the globe.
Women like Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head for expressing her wishes to attend school, show that oppression is still a relevant issue.
“Men in those cultures have developed deeply entrenched attitudes about females,” Sullivan said.
According to statistics from the FBI, as quoted by Sullivan, “Sex trafficking of women is the fastest growing organized crime.”
However, women aren’t just trafficked for sex, according to Sullivan.
“In India, one woman is killed every hour over dowry disputes, many doused with gasoline and burned to death, in spite of the Indian law that prohibits the giving and receiving of dowries, the reality being that justice turns a blind eye to saturate old customs,” Sullivan said.
Oppression isn’t limited to developing countries. According to statistics given by Sullivan:
One in four college-aged women is date raped or experiences attempted rape during her college years.
One in three women, who are victims of homicides, are murdered by their current or former partner. In Idaho, there have been 12 domestic violence deaths so far in 2013.
“In many cultures, (male) superiority has no boundaries,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan believes this is why oppression and suffrage against women continues to exist.
Eckles commented on these staggering figures.
“We wanted to make sure we were opening (students’) eyes to the other things that were happening in the world,” Eckles said.
Karlie Standley, a sophomore elementary education major, enjoyed the presentation even though she has yet to read the book.
“I think that it’s really interesting to hear how she (Sullivan) has experienced it first hand,” Standley said. “It makes you more inspired and it makes you want to get involved in women’s rights and equality.”
Eckles is optimistic about what students are capable of doing.
“This university is a firm believer that our students can change the world to be a better place,” Eckles said.
Sullivan said getting involved with local refugee organizations not only helps the refugees become acquainted with western culture and language, but also gives students the opportunity to understand their struggles.
There are approximately 6,000 refugees currently living in Boise, many of whom do not know the language or culture.
“Its not just about becoming aware, once you become aware, what’s the next step, and that next step is getting engaged and actually doing something about it,” Eckles said.