Monday, March 8, 2010

Steps to Advance the World's Women (by Nicholas Kristof)

A few insightful suggestions from Nicholas Kristof for International Women's Day! Here are excerpts. The entire article can be read in the New York Times here.

March 8, 2010, 10:30 AM
Three Proven Steps to Advance the World’s Women, on International Women’s Day

"First, I think girls’ education may be the single most cost-effective kind of aid work. It’s cheap, it opens minds, it gives girls new career opportunities and ways to generate cash, it leads them to have fewer children and invest more in those children, and it tends to bring women from the shadows into the formal economy and society...."

"Second, I’d argue for deworming and micronutrients. These may not sound like they’re “women’s issues,” but in a sense they are. For example, iodine deficiency particularly affects female fetuses, for reasons that we don’t fully understand. Insufficient iodine in the first trimester of pregnancy costs that child 10 to 15 I.Q. points for the rest of his or her life, and yet iodized salt programs that prevent the problem cost less than 5 cents per person reached...."

"Third, we need more support for women starting businesses. These can be microsavings and microlending programs, or training in entrepreneurship. BRAC and Grameen have done great work in this area, as has Injaz in the Middle East. Such programs lead women to bring in incomes, and that gives them more weight in the home and society. Moreover, they tend to invest the income in their children, so there’s a broader effect in fighting poverty."