Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Women’s Crusade


Given that I have the attention span that rivals that of our darling labrador retriever (hey! A stick! Let's play fetch! Oh wait, it it dinner time yet?!), it's not frequently that I have the patience to sit down and read a 7 page NY Times article. But I read every single word of this one and I urge you to do the same. The subject matter is important (and illuminating), the stories are engrossing, and the suggestions put forth to assist our very poorest sound far more reasonable that some of the wild solutions floating around.

Please. Read it.


Here is the first part:

Published: August 17, 2009

IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations likeCARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

Read the entire article here

Here is a tidbit that I particularly liked:

Bill Gates recalls once being invited to speak in Saudi Arabia and finding himself facing a segregated audience. Four-fifths of the listeners were men, on the left. The remaining one-fifth were women, all covered in black cloaks and veils, on the right. A partition separated the two groups. Toward the end, in the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience noted that Saudi Arabia aimed to be one of the Top 10 countries in the world in technology by 2010 and asked if that was realistic. “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country,” Gates said, “you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.” The small group on the right erupted in wild cheering.

And one that was quite compelling:
Yet another reason to educate and empower women is that greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. It has long been known that a risk factor for turbulence and violence is the share of a country’s population made up of young people. Now it is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor; the reasons aren’t fully understood, but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room. That’s in part why the Joint Chiefs of Staff and international security specialists are puzzling over how to increase girls’ education in countries like Afghanistan — and why generals have gotten briefings from Greg Mortenson, who wrote about building girls’ schools in his best seller, “Three Cups of Tea.” Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force.

Read the entire article here. Photos: Katy Grannan for The New York Times

4 comments:

  1. Have you read "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali? It addresses these same issues in an autobiographical form and it's quite riveting.

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  2. No. But I'm always looking for recommendations. Thanks for the tip!

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  3. Thanks for posting Sonja! I am just finished reading Infidel...it is very interesting hearing the words from a woman who experienced the worst forms of abuse and how present day it still is. I bought it per Cherie's suggestion so you can borrow it next if you like!

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  4. Awesome, thanks Katherine! Perhaps Megan could bring it down when she returns from Thanksgiving break.

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