Nicholas Kristof frequently writes great pieces for the New York Times about different feminist issues in a global context. This weekend’s Times featured a pretty lengthy excerpt from a book called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide written by him and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, a former Times correspondent, that will be published next month. The piece is called The Women’s Crusade and it is an engrossing read that left me eagerly anticipating the book’s release.
Kristof and WuDunn make several critical points. In the second paragraph, they make the point that in order to help a country, you must first help out and elevate the most marginalized of the population. In other words, you are only as strong as your weakest link:
The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.
They go on to discuss how educating women and girls and providing them with microfinance opportunities are two simple ways to uplift the status of the female population for many countries worldwide. The piece is laden with personal stories that humanize gender oppression and the plight of many women and girls worldwide. Later on, Kristof and WuDunn write:
WHAT SHOULD we make of stories like Saima’s? Traditionally, the status of women was seen as a “soft” issue — worthy but marginal. We initially reflected that view ourselves in our work as journalists. We preferred to focus instead on the “serious” international issues, like trade disputes or arms proliferation.
The mainstream media consistently dismisses gender issues as not important enough and often casts them off to the side. This is why we seldom get coverage of women and gender related issues, like how thousands of infant girls die in China because their parents didn’t think it necessary to give them quality medical care or attention simply because they are female, or bride burnings in India which occur about once every two hours, or sex trafficking. Even in the New York Times, “All the news that’s fit to print”, doesn’t feature such stories.
Kristof and WuDunn also suggest realistic foreign-aid policies to help further women’s roles in economic and societal development, such as allocating $10 billion over five years to fund education for women and girls worldwide, sponsoring a global drive to eradicate iodine deficiency across the globe, allocating $1.6 billion over twelve years to eliminate obstetric fistula and a childbirth injury that affects many women in less wealthy countries.
Read the whole thing here.