Women, Poverty, Economic Development – “Half the Sky”

October 17, 2009
Nicholas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn

Nicholas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn

Empowered women, it turns out, are the catalysts for abolishing poverty and spurring a community’s or nation’s economic development.

Half the Sky, the book by NY Times Reporter Nicholas Kristoff and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, lays out examples and data to compellingly support the truth of this powerful “woman effect.”

For years, books, papers, and studies have pointed to this same critical point….that empowering women is good for us. Think of the work of the Heifer Foundation and its loans of the means to make a decent living to women in poor, developing countries, or the micro-loan system developed by Nobel Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunis, in which roughly 96% of loans were made to women.

Each of these projects found that giving small aid to women, rather than men, had a better overall outcome for the recipient’s family or community. Reduced to simplest terms, creating social stability in their community, AFWW argues, is a strong female motivator, and women in general spend and use their resources accordingly. For men, the equally strong motivator is to achieve or maintain status, and men in general tend to spend their resources accordingly. The results documented by these groups and in Half the Sky reflect these very fundamental male/female differences.

While others have attempted to make the same point, that empowered women can be economic powerhouses, this husband and wife team have gathered so many statistics and personal stories into one place that it makes an especially compelling case. This book is, for all of us, Good News.

But empowering women isn’t only good for ending poverty and improving the economic conditions of developing nations. One of AFWW’s major efforts is to convince a critical mass of the earth’s citizens who are people of good will that empowering women so that they are full partners with men in our governing bodies is also the key catalyst to abolishing war.

And BTW, as we travel the path to the goal of ending war, we’ll also vastly improve social conditions in our communities and countries.

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