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Empower women to save the world

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Just about everyone working in development projects almost anywhere in the world has known the secret to success for some time -- put women in charge and your chances of a positive outcome are greatly enhanced.

That's not female chauvanism, it's simple fact. Educate women, get them in good health, help finance their early endeavours and the results will benefit the whole community.

A recent New York Times Magazine (26 Aug 09) devotes most of the issue to "Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time." In "The Women's Crusade" journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn lay out a manifesto for the 21st century -- arguing that "the liberation of women could help solve many of the world's problems, from poverty to child mortality to terrorism." Their book on the subject is about to be published.

Kristof and WuDunn, partners in life and often in work, make their claims via the strength of years spent in the field trudging through the challenges of underdevelopment and exploitation. Kristof's recent columns on maternal mortality, and sex slavery have generated much reaction and action. WuDunn has an MBA from Harvard and has worked both the journalistic and the business sides of the New York Times. She knows the bottom line. Their article is chock full of examples of where empowering women has worked.

The issue has several other articles including interviews with one of Africa's most empowered women -- Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and with another powerhouse female, Hillary Clinton.

Here in Canada, OXFAM has a campaign that draws the direct link between climate change and the affect on women's lives. Their premise is straightforward:

"Poor women are least responsible for climate change -- and most burdened by the impact. In solidarity with thousands of other courageous women and men around the world, we ask you to join our campaign for gender and climate justice."

The Halifax Chronicle Herald picked up on the Oxfam story here.

And maybe there's more cause for hope...just as I'm about to post this blog, I see The Guardian U.K. has a story about the big push for a tax on all international transactions which would help with costs for maternal and child health and HIV Aids programs.

Now that's making the piper pay the tune!

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