The Power of Women to Change the World

The writing muse seems to have not been with me much lately, but she has definitely been with Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

The husband and wife team of reporters have a book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” that will be published next month. Recently an essay adapted from it was part of a special edition of New York Times Magazine headlined “The Women’s Crusade ” that I think everyone should read.

To pique your interest, I’ll throw out a few sentences from it:

“The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls and women are now missing from the planet, precisely because they are female, than men were killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century.”

“For all of India’s shiny new high-rises, a woman there still has a 1-in-70 lifetime chance of dying in childbirth. In contrast, the lifetime risk in the United States is 1 in 4,800; in Ireland, it is 1 in 47,600.”

“In many poor countries, the greatest unexploited resource isn’t oil fields or veins of gold; it is the women and girls who aren’t educated and never become a major presence in the formal economy.”

“Strange as it may seem, sweatshops in Asia had the effect of empowering women.”

“A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.”

“’Gender inequality hurts economic growth,’ Goldman Sachs concluded in a 2008 research report that emphasized how much developing countries could improve their economic performance by educating girls.”

If you recall my Blog Action Day 2009 post, you’ll know that this is something that strikes me as such a common sense way of battling global poverty that I can’t believe we aren’t doing even more to support those girls.

While Kristof and WuDunn present their own ideas of proposals that President Obama shoudl adopt as part of his foreign-aid policy, I’ll throw out some links to organizations that you can support today to make a difference:

BRAC

Afghan Institute of Learning

Campaign for Female Education (Camfed)

Family Care International

Hunger Project

Pro Mujer

globalgiving

I’m no charitynavigator.org or givewell.net, so feel free to visit those sites for more information about aid groups.  I’m also certain there are many more that focus on girls and women than I’ve listed above. Please share your favorites in the comments.

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