The burden of health research for developing nations does not rest solely on the shoulders of the country itself, but is shared with the global community. As one of the many researchers working for the betterment of developing nations, Kim Eun-mi, professor of Ewha Graduate School of International Studies, has been continuing her research on the health of girls in developing nations since 2013. Commonly seen with a pink and green ribbon-shaped “Girls for Girls” badge pinned on her jacket, Kim is known to hand out the badges to people all around in hopes of spreading awareness for maternal and child health problems of developing nations. Pondering the blind spots of global health care during the beginning stages of her research, Kim noticed that even though maternal and child health care for adult women is given continuous attention, girls under 15 are more neglected in comparison. “Although most maternal and child health projects target women over the age of 18, they are already mothers with at least one or two children,” Kim said. “However, the highrisk mothers of 15 and under do not receive enough help. Protecting girls from forced early marriage and premature pregnancy is crucial to solving the fundamental problem of infant and maternal mortality.” Since the focus of many health care programs supported by the UN and NonGovernmental Organizations is on adult women of childbearing age, young girls cannot be fully assisted with the many benefits of global Offical Development Aid (ODA). The tragedy of girls unwillingly giving birth at the age as young as nine leads to much higher exposure to possible death of both the mother and the infant. Although governmental programs such as “Better Life for Girls in Korea” and “Let Girls Learn in the U.S.” are slowly acknowledging the need to pay more attention to young girls, there is still a long way to go. “Annually, there are 7 billion girls who marry before the age of 18 and 70,000 of them die while giving birth,” Kim said. “Those numbers can be drastically decreased by research and ODA from other nations. The problem requires more attention.” Kim also remarked that political issues must also be considered, as aid for developing nations is a global matter. “There needs to be strong political will of the government to support and invest in global health problems, specifically girls’ health,” Kim said. “That is why I plan to meet as many local and foreign officials as possible to such issues.” With at least three more years of her research left, Kim has grandiose plans for the future. Because the problem of maternal and child health is intertwined with cultural, social and religious issues, she has expanded her research team by working with professors from the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Studies, Food and Nutrition and Nursing to draw a comprehensive conclusion. Kim also emphasizes the inclusion of young students into the issue. Visiting various high schools, holding workshops with university students and hosting the 2016 International Conference on Girls’ Health are all evidence of the research team’s efforts to attract students. “I hope students acknowledge the severity of girls’ maternal and child health in developing nations and cooperate to deduct creative solutions,” Kim remarked. “After all, it’s a problem that spills over to the next generation. Working with more male students is also another goal of mine. Few turned up at last year’s International Conference on Girls’ Health, but it would be great if there were more.” Kim also pointed out the role of Ewha in helping developing nations. “The foreign missionaries’ contribution to girls’ education in Korea has made the present-day Ewha possible,” Kim said. “It’s important not to forget the help we received in the past and help those in need to our best ability. As the birthplace of women’s education and rights in Korea, I find that supporting girls’ health is the basic foundation spirit of Ewha that we need to spread. Assisting developing nations with research enables girls to empower themselves and stand up for themselves. This is my long term goal: ‘girls for girls.’”
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