Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Monday, July 9, 2012

C: Virtuous Cycles

I have seen two news stories within the past twenty-four hougatesrs which have inspired me to write this post.  One was the interview of Melinda Gates (wife of Microsoft's Bill Gates).  The other was a news clip about the execution of a  woman in Afghanistan yesterday.

If I have a political-issue passion it is women’s issues.  I care about American women issues, but my real passion is global issues.  If you really look at things in depth, I think you will find that women are the class of people who are most deeply oppressed and against whom the most historically-sustained, egregious treatment is inflicted.  I believe it has been this way for a long, long, long, long, long time.  We American women have our challenges, but most of us never consider how our sisters across the world fare—much, much worse than do we.

If you are interested in this topic as every thinking/caringhalf the sky person should be (spoken like a true fanatic), then you might want to read Half the Sky by Nichols Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  This book examines the plight of women worldwide but also comes up with an amazing conclusion on the topic of third-world aid:  The very best way to elevate impoverished countries is to elevate their women.

This book examines how charitable/foreign aid programs have gone through phases. They have discovered that just giving money to these areas is not ever effective.  It changes little because it does nothing to end the cycle (when the money’s gone, the poverty is still there) and it often is used for all kinds of things unintended, never reaching its intended targets.

give a man a fish The idea of equipping the population instead of just giving them money was a better idea, based on the old proverb, “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”  Still, the impact is not what one would want.

So, now policy makers have finally discovered that women are the key to helping society.  What they have found is that if you improve women’s plights, those women, in turn, improve the plights of their children and their entire community.  If you give a woman some means, usually she will send her kids to school, take care of her neighbor and just generally improve life around her.  Here’s a quote from the book summing up this theme:

It's no accident that the countries that have enjoyed an economic take off have been those that educated girls

Notwithstanding the fact that women are the prime “do-gooders” of the world, they are frequently devalued, and the stories and statistics contained Half the Sky will shock your American minds…you need to know them.  I will put a few quotes from the book at the end if you are interested after this post.

Now, on to Melinda Gates.  She and her husband have the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which does tons of good worldwide in trying to solve global poverty issues.  They havegates foundation been especially known for research in AIDS and malaria preventions, seeing these diseases as major deterrents to moving out of poverty.

But Melinda has put a new issue on her front burner.  She was in a village in Africa speaking with women there when one woman said to her “I just wish I could bring all good things to my child before having another.”  Melinda says it hit her like a ton of bricks: these woman produce child after child in a world where they cannot adequately take care of them, and they have no control over this process. 

She looked around at women barely making it with eight children.  She decided that giving these women the right to plan their families is an important thing and she is pushing funding for birth control programs.  She is at a summit this week to try to convince world leaders in these areas to fund birth control programs.

Boy, is she meeting resistance. 

Some of it is right here at home.

Melinda is a practicing Catholic, and her own bishop has denounced her plans, saying that this would be contrary to God’s law.  Melinda was so gracious to say that one does not have to agree with leadership on every point in order to love her church.  She is sticking to her guns because she says that in every area where women receive some power, it elevates her community.  She believes she is doing the right thing.

Melinda refers to an economic theory term to describe what happens when you elevate women in a society.  She calls it a “Virtuous Cycle” of giving, explaining, as do the authors of Half the Sky, that women participate in a cycle of giving if they are given the chance.

I admire Melinda.

And, so, as I thought about this post, onto the television screen comes the other news item of my day: A young Afghan woman was, allegedly, “involved” with two Afghan military officers.  A “love triangle” the news reporter called it.  Here’s what I’m not understanding, but it is what the report said, “They [the officers?] accused her of adultery.”  Of course, that means she must be killed.burka

She was executed by nine gun shots –still dressed in her head-t0-toe burka—while a big all-male crowd stood around and cheered, clapped and laughed!  I am aghast at these animals.  Is she worth nothing that the loss of her life—whatever her guilt may be—is not a sobering and quiet event? 

No, the truth is that her life was nothing, and her death was mere sport to these men.

By the way, last time I checked, it took at least two to commit adultery—where were the men participants?  Why weren’t they dragged out and shot amidst cheering?

Sometimes I just have to think we are the superior gender.  Sorry, it’s just where I am today.  C

PS – if you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks.  Here are some sobering statistics and thoughts from Half the Sky:

  • More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century.
  • The equivalent of 5 jumbo jets worth of women die in labor each day...
  • Surveys suggest that about one third of all women worldwide face beatings in the home. Women aged fifteen through forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. A major study by the World Health Organization found that in most countries, between 30 percent and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or boyfriend.


A bird in the hand said...

I've been aware of this for a long time. Honestly, I don't understand the oppression of women, I really don't. I know the "reasons", but they don't make sense therefore I don't accept them. I've been a lapsed Catholic since the age of 16, which is many, many years ago. Whenever a cleric makes some pronouncement about God's will, I want to know how a mere mortal would know God's will for the rest of us. The history of Christianity is a long saga of a horrific scam perpetrated by men. It's a way to control the masses.
So, kudos to Melissa Gates.

As for countries in which the woman is sport in the arena of men, words fail me. These (culpable) men who murder a woman will justify it with their religious "beliefs". This kind of barbarity is cultural not religious, and for it to exist in this day and age (actually in any day and age) is disgusting and inhuman.

All of it reminds me of a line in a British movie where an East Indian man says: "Those people are sodomized by religion."

Mamma has spoken said...

My son was station in Afghanistan two years ago and the stories he tells about his time there are heart wrenching, eye opening that you won't ever hear them on the news. Why? because if we (the USA) really knew how it was there, we wouldn't be so into the 'preserve their culture' stand and 'save the innocent.' Want to know what I am talking about? Go talk to a vet who has served there, they all have the true story.
For example, the woman shot in Afghanistan and the men cheered was due to their believe of women are property only meant for procreation (little boys are for the pleasure part) but then you don't hear about that, ever.......

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

This reminds me of the culture in which Jesus lived--men did not speak to women in public--even to their own mother or sister. That is why it was so astounding to the disciples when they found Jesus talking to the woman at the well.
We know what religions are most oppressive to women, but it is politically incorrect to say so. Also, why isn't Hilary Clinton speaking out against these atrocities, including the destruction of baby girls, and disabled children in China--and forced abortions? All these practices demean all peoples--those who practice it and those who do nothing and tolerate it.

Cowgirl V

TexWisGirl said...

may God bless melinda gates - even if the Catholics won't.

Vee said...

Oh how much more I would like to say, but do not feel the liberty in your comments. But oh the revulsion I feel for those countries where women look like prisoners in hiding and the men look "normal." It is very unusual for men to accuse a woman of adultery for the very reason you mention. More likely that she was raped. It reminds me of the gospel story where the men accused the woman of adultery before Jesus. Very compelling story that one is and not met with this outcome.

As for women having oodles of children. It's happening here in my own corner with a people group who have swamped the school systems with a dozen children or more per family. It's only a matter of time before they have completely taken over and they are NOT a people anyone would want to have take over as their woman are covered head to toe and their little girls swelter under yards of clothing while their men and boys wear shorts and look "normal."

There. I've said it again. Please delete if it's too awful.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

My First Amendment Rights: women are treated dreadfully in Muslim countries and are viewed and treated as chattel with virtually no recourse especially under Sharia law.
Hilary isn't speaking out because she wants the White House after Obama is finished with it. Thank God Mrs. Gates is following her heart and I'm sorry her Bishop has none of his own to follow. It would appear it's a case of the blind trying to blind.

The first person to comment and I disagree. I believe she has made the error of categorizing Christianity under the umbrella of the Catholic denomination. The original meaning of catholic pertained to the universal Christian religion and over millennium became the Catholic Church we know today.
Jesus Christ, as it's been pointed out, spoke to all manner of women...in public!...and offered them the same salvation He offered men.
When His disciples and other MEN turned their backs and ran, denying Christ...it was WOMEN who stood by, who went to the tomb, who told others He was risen. Women were always where Christ was; women always supported Christ because He was the first religious figure to support them and He viewed women as equals as it pertained to His death and resurrection.
In Africa and other Middle East countries, women and men are being killed, burned alive, tortured because of their Christian faith.
I was raised Pentecostal Holiness and am proud of my rich heritage although I no longer attend that denomination. I'm a lapsed Holiness; not a lapsed Christian.
I do believe, though, PH'ers and Catholics can hold onto their guilt with more fidelity and strength than can folks of other religions! -smile-

Suzanne said...

I have lots to say on this subject. First of all, where are all the scions of the women's liberation movement? They're all worrying about the "glass ceiling" when they should move on to more important things - helping women in third world countries improve their lives.

National security strategic planner Thomas P.M. Barnett was making a presentation and was challenged by a muslim scholar that he didn't understand the culture. Barnett replied, "Yes, I understand the culture and the problem is in the way your treat women."

Please, please rent the movie, Our Times, by renowned Iranian director Rakshan Bani-Etemad. It's available on Netflix.


This movie will haunt you. Years later, after viewing it for the first time, I still wonder about the woman whose story unfolded. My heart was torn for her.

The only charity that I support is Trickle Up. They provide small loans to women who then start their own business. We're talking things that women in third world countries can do to improve their lives and the lives of their children. The loans are under $50. They receive support and advice on how to create a business plan and they must pay back the money. For example, one woman used the loan to buy a handheld scale that allowed her to sell home grown vegetables at the market. She paid back the loan and her small business was successful enough that she then started a small restaurant.

It's not enough to give lip service to these issues. If we really care we must share and give a hand up. Melinda Gates is in a financial position to make some real changes but that doesn't mean that the rest of us can't also find a way to help these women.

A year ago I created a piece for an art installation. It was called "Women's Work". One of the quotes included was this:

"There's a special place in hell for those who don't help other women."

Thanks for bringing up these issues..... and please rent the movie, you will be moved.

A bird in the hand said...

To the person who said I made an error in categorizing Christianity under the Catholic umbrella (I'm not sure what that means), but I wasn't differentiating Catholic from Christianity. I said the "history of Christianity" and I stand by my statement. That history begins with the followers of Jesus Christ going out into the world to convert the Pagans and over the millennia has been manipulated, edited and rewritten no matter what the religion. I'll leave it at that since the historical works and information are readily available.

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