Sunday, August 23, 2009
"Women Hold Up Half the Sky" - Chinese Proverb
Assuming that the bulk of my readers here are girls, I want to strongly urge you all to find today's issue of the New York Times' Sunday Magazine, which features a slew of important articles that focus around that topic, "Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time."
The stories presented left a deafening mark on my heart and brought me to tears. Ultimately, I felt confused by the facts presented about the brutal oppression suffered by women around the world. In my mind, we should be centuries behind this kind of inequality and unfathomable violence. This reminds me of a game I played recently with Billy: I asked him when & where in history would he choose to go if he had the opportunity to time travel. His options were endless. Mine, however, were bound primarily by the fact that I was a woman. I didn't want to end up anywhere outside of the U.S. or pre-20th century unless I was of untouchable importance somewhere, as in royalty.
The cover article, The Women's Crusade, drives that realization home, reminding us readers that women around the world are "routinely beaten, raped or sold into prostitution." A second article, A School Bus for Shamsia, tells the story of a young female student at an Afghani school for girls who was seriously burned with battery acid and the journalist who reported the story, eventually raising $25,000 to help the girl and her school. By the end of the article, he has managed to buy a school bus, but is still having difficulty convincing Shamsia's family to allow him to put the donated money toward repairing her face and damaged eyesight. There's also an interview with Hilary Clinton, as well as a final anecdote that again leaves you thinking about "a safe place to be a girl."
A section in the cover article lends a few words to do-it-yourself aid. The writers suggest kiva.org, a microfinancing organization wherein you can choose to lend (and be paid back) small amounts of money to people all over the world looking to finance small businesses. Or there's GlobalGiving, a donation-based organization wherein you can make a small gift to women whose causes you identify with. Click here for an expanded list of organizations that seek to support women in developing countries.