May 19, 2013 | 05:39 AM (BD Time)
19 May, 2013 Sunday
Science education and women's lives improvement
Hasina Akhtar :
It's not only about making brilliant discoveries. The lives of girls and women in developing countries would be tremendously improved by even an elementary knowledge of science. Some useful, brass- tacks examples of what basic science education could accomplish!
In Bangladesh, basic science education could contribute a great deal to helping women and girls lead better lives. Below are few examples:
At the onset of puberty several hormonal changes occur naturally in a girl's body. She sometimes feels uncomfortable and anxious as she is going through a process she does not understand. But if she has been given science education it may help lessen her anxieties regarding this sudden hormonal change in her body. She could receive this education not only from school textbooks, but also from various magazines, supplementary sections in newspapers, such as sections on women's health, etc.
Science education is also necessary for women who are playing vital roles in their families' lives. If a mother has a knowledge of science she can use that knowledge for the good of her family.
She will know which foods are rich in vitamin C or vitamin A, which foods are not good for obese children, why more calcium is needed during old age, which foods are vital for a nursing mother etc. Ensuring a proper diet doesn't always require much money. It does, however, require a knowledge of nutrition to choose inexpensive foods that are healthful and to choose inexpensive foods that can improve certain health problems.
A mother who has proper education in science can also teach her baby girl to lead a healthy life and to avoid many health problems common to women.
Other health problems also stem from mothers' lack of science education rather than from poverty. Vision problems in children are one of the major health concerns in Bangladesh.
Since many people have no knowledge of the proper use of vitamin A, the government is trying to provide them with that knowledge through television, radio and other media. When the government says that foods rich in Vitamin A should be cooked with extra oil, many people do not understand why and ignore this advice.
But those who know that Vitamin A is soluble in fat can understand why they are being told to cook these foods with extra oil and are more likely to follow the advice they are given.
As a woman researcher, I feel that science education has completely changed my life. It happened when I was awarded the prestigious UNESCO-L'Oreal Fellowship in 2002 and visited France.
There I was able to meet Professor de Duve, Professor Marc Van Montagu, Professor Indira Nath and several women scientists and academics. I can still remember those glorious days in France, and I am grateful to UNESCO and L'Oreal.
After such an experience, I am no doubt more motivated to work in the scientific field. I feel I am still a learner in science and the more I learn the more I will be able to use my knowledge to help mankind.
In conclusion, women and girls need science education to enrich their personal, family and professional lives. I believe that those of us who have benefited from science education have a responsibility to work for the welfare of others.
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