Friday, August 21, 2009

It's the Women, Stupid

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. With education and with help starting businesses, impoverished women can earn money and support their countries as well as their families. They represent perhaps the best hope for fighting global poverty.

And yet, for all the great information in this story... I was struck by how there was little to no mention of changing *men's* behaviors and *men's* attitudes toward women. Yes, give women aid, education, to lift populations out of poverty... but how does one go about changing the cultural attitude that women are beasts of burden?

By allowing them to make a buck, I guess. Which seems like an oddly capitalist solution. We measure the value of a life... by how much money it can make.


Not arguing with the solution. Just... concerned about that solution. Read the very excellent, For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women for more about how the industrial revolution actually contributed to the *devaluation* traditional "women's work."

Like everybody else, we've just had to learn to do new things.

But you know what? Men have - and continue to need to - learn new ways of living, too. Giving women all the burden of change while excusing men who spend their family's money on alcohol and prostitutes... well.


For those tired of reading about this crap and want to make a difference, I recommend Kiva.

1 comments so far. Got something to say?

Jackie M. said...

I'd make an argument here about how empowering the women out from under the men changes the men's unconscious assumptions, which is more powerful than getting them to make conscious acknowledgements of inequity... but have you seen this?