8/19/09

A Goddess isn't always enough

{{fr|Jeunes filles en tenue traditionnelle dje...Image via Wikipedia

A little rabble-rousing today because of this article by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in The New York Times Magazine. Entitled, "The Women's Crusade," this essay notes the following:

  • Between 70 and 100 million women are "missing" from the planet, which means that while, theoretically, longer life spans mean there should be more women than men in many countries, these demographics don't pan out. Why? In part, it is because girls and women are seen as less deserving of healthcare than boys and men. In India, girls between one and five have a 50% higher chance of dying than boys.
  • Unknown millions of girls and women are slaves. Right now. Today. Often they live short lives of forced prostitution.
  • In the developing world, maternal mortality is high. In Niger, one in seven women die in childbirth. In the U.S. it is one in 4,800. In Ireland it is one in 47,600.

I like to write about goddesses because I like to understand how my experience fits into a larger global perspective and I like to feel part of a historic continuum. But a goddess won't help the millions of women whose lives are impacted by gender inequality. Education will help. Economic independence will help. Microfinance will help.

Lifting up women lifts up us all. Not just philosophically, but practically. Kristof and WuDunn note that "male domination of a country is a risk factor" for terrorism (The speculation being "that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room.") Likewise, male domination hurts economic growth by marginalizing what Bill Gates has called "one-half of a country's talent."

You want to help the world? Educate a girl.




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20 comments:

Joanne walked barefoot on the milky way said...

The statistics are sad. Whatever happened to equality? I agree that education is important. Women have so much to give.

Desiree said...

What I love about charities like "save the children" is that they ensure they invest in women/mothers who are more likely to use aid for their children and development of their communities, rather than leveraging it politically---

... daisy... said...

SO SAD... SO TRUE...

Devorah said...

so true.
Look at this...
Swagbucks - search and win! It's another way of doing google searches but you get points/swagbucks for some of the searches you do and then you can redeem your "bucks" for different prizes/gift cards. Plus, you'll get 3 swagbucks just for signing up!!

Alison said...

Awesome post! It's such a shame that women in other countries don't enjoy the kind of freedoms we do. My heart breaks to read about all the sex trafficking around the world. I personally donate to Heifer.org because they give animals to needy families - cuts down on corruption and it also provides a way for families to provide for themselves. And they have to pay it forward - they have to pass on animals to other needy families. Everyone gets educated and becomes self-sufficient. Thank you to Desiree for sharing about Save The Children. I'll donate to them as well.

Margaret said...

Joanne: The statistics are really startling. I really appreciated reading this article.

Dez: You make a great point, and the article goes into how raising families out of poverty is increasingly seen as giving women economic options.

Daisy...I know.

Devorah: I agree.

Alison: Thank you. Great info about Heifer.org. Thanks.

inkywasfat said...

In regard to microfinances: An excellent way to help women is to give a loan. You can do this at Kiva.org You are making a loan - the entrepreneur that you choose repays the loan, and then you can get your money back to put in your account, or even more fun: loan it out to someone else. Kiva.org Awesome!

Cafe Observer said...

If nothing else, I hope our military involvement in Irag & Afghanistan is a catalyst for womens liberation, & equal access to education, for the women of these poor countries.

Amanda Phillips said...

I am sorry for my fellow females that have been abducted by either her rearing, her country or her religion. It is a true crime that even in the most prosperous of countries or the poorest that a human beings life can be exploited so easily. And a unfortunate side note.. our countrys involvment in war has done nothing for the females in any third world country. Wars are for the boys to display what ever phallic symbols they can to compare..not for womens rights. It is shameful that so little is achieved for such a large price.

Margaret said...

Inky: great recommendation. Thanks.

Pup: I totally get what you're saying, but I'd add that I think we have to be careful not to assume that women have it completely easy. Look at that maternal mortality statistic: U.S: 1 in 4,800. Ireland: 1 in 48,600.

Amanda: Well said.

Cafe Pasadena said...

MF, my comment didn't include any assumption of, "women having it completely easy." And, it certainly didn't make any sweeping, categorical statements about anything.

I'll have to assume you meant to respond to another commenter.

altadenahiker said...

I heard on NPR last week that Norway actually has a law that corporations must have (40%? 50%?) female corporate officers. This isn't just some pc rule; they believe that women are more prone to take thoughtful, balanced, and honest action than the other guys.

Don't know if I agree, and in any case, don't shoot the messenger.

Shell Sherree said...

Thanks for highlighting this, Margaret, and great to know of the other organisations mentioned in the comments. There's still such a long way to go, but there are many good people doing their best to head things in the right direction.

pasadenaadjacent said...

Women and children!

It was only recently in the UAE that pressure was put on the ruling emerits to look into the exploitation involved with the buying and selling of small boys for the sole purpose of making them into camel jockys. Big business in Dubai

Another something I found shocking was the discovery that Saudi Arabia only outlawed slavery in 1973.

Margaret said...

Pup: I apologize. I meant no offense. What I was thinking is that I would hate for someone in the developing world to read my blog and think we, in the US., think we have all the answers when we are pretty imperfect too. And I know you know that because you are a wise and thoughtful person, as your blog shows. Please don't think I was lashing out in any way. That was not my intention.

AH:You, on the other hand, are a very bad messenger and deserve to be shot. (You know I'm joking, right? One must be careful on these blogs.)

PA: Camel jockeys? Really? But you're point is well made, boys can be just as vulnerable as girls.

Shanna said...

Any clue as to the difference in statistics between the U.S. and Ireland?

Margaret said...

Shanna: I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing it's a little thing called universal health care.

Missy AKA Little Messy Missy said...

Thank you for posting this.

Bec said...

Thoughtful post - the statistics about sexual violence, human trafficking, and other issues affecting women are staggering. And, the maternal mortality and childbirth options in the US - that's another rant that I'll save for later but I appreciate you bringing it up in the comments.

Petrea said...

I sometimes wonder what charities might best benefit from the small amounts I have to give. Now I know.

On a separate note, that statistic showing the difference in deaths in childbirth between US and Ireland--whoa. Universal health care indeed. We've got some catching up to do.