Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who is Saving the World's Women? The Answer is the World's Women, but you wouldn't know it from reading The New York Times. To the NYT, the U.S. is saving them. One woman at a time.

image of the newspaper that tells good-for-US stories and pretends they are truthful, is from here

I will offer significant critique of the following article from The New York Times. My commentary appears in bold and in brackets within the body of the article. The article may be found without my intrusions, *here*. I want to preface what you're about to read with this observation: the New York Times tells stories. It's about to tell you several stories about poor women and girls of colour. These stories have a function in Western media. They are not to promote the liberation of poor girls and women of colour. Poor girls and women of colour are doing this work all by themselves and always have been. They don't need "US". We cause many problems for them, none of which you're going to hear about below, because this story is about how good we are. Really good. Like saints, really. Every single one of us. Don't you feel good now, if you're a U.S. citizen? If not, don't worry: you're about to.

The NYT story exists is to promote a fictitious idea: that poor girls and women around the world need  "US". We are good and our men are better than theirs. (You'll see.) We can kill their men because they don't respect women as much as our men do[n't]. Our men don't respect women, particularly poor girls and women abroad. Our men beat, rape, and procure women, inside the U.S. and beyond. Our men invade other countries, such as countries you're about to visit in this article. And we kill men, women, girls, and boys there. And babies. Lots of each. For power. For control. That's exactly how "good" we are. But never mind all that. On with the charade! The article is based on a book written by this piece's authors. That book is this one:

image of book cover is from here

Saving the World's Women
How changing the lives of
women and girls in the developing
world can change everything

The Women’s Crusade

Katy Grannan for The New York Times
Saima Muhammad, shown with her daughter Javaria (seated), lives near Lahore, Pakistan. She was routinely beaten by her husband until she started a successful embroidery business.

Published: August 17, 2009

Katy Grannan for The New York Times
Goretti Nyabenda of Burundi transformed her life with a $2 microloan that allowed her to build a small business.

Katy Grannan for The New York Times
Abbas Be was held captive in a Delhi brothel. After she was freed, she returned to her home city of Hyderabad, became a bookbinder and now puts her sisters through school.

Katy Grannan for The New York Times
Claudine Mukakarisa, who survived the genocide in Rwanda, was paired with a donor who helped her educate her children.

Katy Grannan for The New York Times
Edna Adan A former first lady of Somalia and World Health Organization official, she built her own maternity hospital in the enclave of Somaliland.

IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. [And industrialisation, the growth of capitalism, colonialism, incest, rape, battery, and gross sexual exploitation and murder of women by men, and genocide of Indigenous people and other groups of non-white people.] In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. [And post-industrialisation, colonialism, the globalisation of capitalism, incest, rape, battery, gross sexual exploitation and murder of women by men, and genocide of Indigenous people, among other groups of non-white people, and the spread of HIV/AIDS.] In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape. [And the same atrocities as the last century too. Except wealth has gotten considerably more consolidated into the hands of a few men, mainly white men in the West.]
Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries [and non-poor countries] suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense [as opposed to a moral, ethical, humane sense, because women are human beings deserving of human rights] the opportunity they represent is even greater. [The "opportunity" mentioned begins the thesis of the NYT: poor women of colour exist for white men. They exist to make rich white men richer and allow the U.S. empire to spread by spreading globalised capitalism at the expense of poor people internationally, disproportionately female and of colour. They will not be supported by the World Bank, the IMF, or the non-governmental organisation complex to organise or bring back into existence anti-capitalist, locally sustained economies, languages, and cultures.] “Women hold up half the sky,” [and most potable water, and men's egos, and men's esteem, food, and clothing] in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. [This is due entirely to globalised racist patriarchy, militarism, and capitalism, funded almost entirely by the white male supremacist West.] There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. [So the way to help people out of poverty and religious extremism--read non-Christian religious extremism--around the world is to focus on women as a starting point. This presumes that women should be supported in order to lift up people who are not women. We must note that there is a glaring lack of recognition, or at least honest truth-telling, that the World Bank, the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and organisations like CARE, are part of the problem; they are not part of any sustainable solution.] That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. [No, it is not. The reason is to allow U.S. empire to dominate more of the world for economic and political purposes which are inhumane and create more poverty, trafficking, slavery, and rape.] The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution. [Huh? Who ever said "women and girls are the problem"??? Would that be patriarchal men? Like the patriarchal men currently in charge of most of the world's governments and economic systems? Do we find any analysis or mention of "patriarchy" and "capitalism" and "white supremacy" as causal factors in why poor women of colour, and non-poor women of all colours are experiencing what they do that is atrocity? "They're the solution"--for whom? For white men in the U.S. who want to make money off their backs, as always; to exploit them to make it seem like we're good and they're in need of our help, like children. In case it isn't clear from dominant media, women of colour globally have always done most of the world's work, like adults, and have been paid a fraction of what white men get paid. And these women and girls to do far more dangerous and degrading work than rich white men will ever do.]
One place to observe this alchemy of gender is in the muddy back alleys of Pakistan. In a slum outside the grand old city of Lahore, a woman named Saima Muhammad used to dissolve into tears every evening. A round-faced woman with thick black hair tucked into a head scarf, Saima had barely a rupee, and her deadbeat husband was unemployed and not particularly employable [not unlike many white men]. He was frustrated and angry, and he coped by beating Saima each afternoon [like many white men]. Their house was falling apart, and Saima had to send her young daughter to live with an aunt, because there wasn’t enough food to go around. [Because of a long history of invasive industrialisation, capitalism, and externally imposed racist patriarchal forces, among local and regional factors.]
“My sister-in-law made fun of me, saying, ‘You can’t even feed your children,’ ” recalled Saima when Nick met her two years ago on a trip to Pakistan. “My husband beat me up. My brother-in-law beat me up. I had an awful life.” [This is something I hear from white women in many Western or partially Westernised  countries. Men beating up women in relationship to the men is not a product of poverty and regionalism. It is a product of patriarchy. Period. Why do the authors not mention this?] Saima’s husband accumulated a debt of more than $3,000, and it seemed that these loans would hang over the family for generations. [Because the U.S. and other rich countries won't do shit about this, because we've got to go into debt fighting unethical, immoral wars against people across Asia, including in Pakistan. Perhaps she or people she knows locally or regionally have been killed by U.S./NATO forces since this articles was written.] Then when Saima’s second child was born and turned out to be a girl as well, her mother-in-law, a harsh, blunt woman named Sharifa Bibi, raised the stakes. [The NYT makes people there sound so mean, don't they? Kind of barely human, you know? It couldn't be that pro-genocidal and pro-rapist white male leaders in the U.S. and G8 countries are at least as mean, could it?]
“She’s not going to have a son,” Sharifa told Saima’s husband, in front of her. “So you should marry again. Take a second wife.” Saima was shattered and ran off sobbing. [The way women do when U.S. white men take second wives, or cheat by exploiting women in prostitution--a second, third, fourth, and one hundredth time.] Another wife would leave even less money to feed and educate the children. And Saima herself would be marginalized in the household, cast off like an old sock. [This portrait of a culture is so grossly dehumanising and one two-dimensional. Does the NYT report on white rich men tossing out wives like an old sock? Or middle class white men? Or men of any colour and of any class who live in the U.S.?] For days Saima walked around in a daze, her eyes red; the slightest incident would send her collapsing into hysterical tears. [Do you get the not-so-subtle message of how 'unstable' she is and how much she needs the Great White Man to come and save her from the savage, battering Brown men? This is the "opportunity" mentioned earlier, for white men to invade and take over economically and sexually.]
It was at that point that Saima signed up with the Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25. The women guarantee one another’s debts and meet every two weeks to make payments and discuss a social issue, like family planning or schooling for girls. [Or how to survive white men's military attacks and rapes.] A Pakistani woman is often forbidden to leave the house without her husband’s permission, but husbands tolerate these meetings because the women return with cash and investment ideas. [This almost makes Pakistani men seem human, doesn't it? The NYT doesn't want us to think of Pakistani men as fully human--just like white men--because when this was written we were invading their country and murdering them--and women and children--en masse. Strange how that bit of the story, of white men's inhumanity to Man and Woman, gets left out.]
Saima took out a $65 loan and used the money to buy beads and cloth, which she transformed into beautiful embroidery that she then sold to merchants in the markets of Lahore. She used the profit to buy more beads and cloth, and soon she had an embroidery business and was earning a solid income — the only one in her household to do so. Saima took her elder daughter back from the aunt and began paying off her husband’s debt.
When merchants requested more embroidery than Saima could produce, she paid neighbors to assist her. Eventually 30 families were working for her, and she put her husband to work as well — “under my direction,” she explained with a twinkle in her eye. [We love pretending we like it when poor women of colour are more powerful than men of colour. This keeps with our theme of "those" men not being worth much--so why not shoot them or bomb them? We love pretending the U.S. is a pro-woman country. Because it makes it harder to come to terms with the fact that we are intimately involved in global sex trafficking, sexual and wage slavery, and the rape and murder of women in countries we invade militarily and economically.] Saima became the tycoon of the neighborhood, and she was able to pay off her husband’s entire debt, keep her daughters in school, renovate the house, connect running water and buy a television. [Now, can she demand the the U.S. stay the fuck out of her country?]
“Now everyone comes to me to borrow money, the same ones who used to criticize me,” Saima said, beaming in satisfaction. “And the children of those who used to criticize me now come to my house to watch TV.” [Subtle plug here for "Western ways"--people coming over and watching TV is good, especially if it could be Western TV.]
Today, Saima is a bit plump and displays a gold nose ring as well as several other rings and bracelets on each wrist. [You know women--all about the accessories! Spending money on 'herself' is the subtle message here.] She exudes self-confidence as she offers a grand tour of her home and work area, ostentatiously showing off the television and the new plumbing. [More of "the way the white West lives is good" theme.] She doesn’t even pretend to be subordinate to her husband. [Like so many battered women do in the U.S.?] He spends his days mostly loafing around, [read: still inhumane enough to allow us to bomb him and his neighbours] occasionally helping with the work but always having to accept orders from his wife. [Read: Can you imagine his humiliation? Why, it's almost cruel, isn't it? We should shoot or bomb him to put him out of his misery, no?] He has become more impressed with females in general: Saima had a third child, also a girl, but now that’s not a problem. “Girls are just as good as boys,” he explained. [Will he be portrayed as more respectful of women than white U.S. men? I doubt it.]
Saima’s new prosperity has transformed the family’s educational prospects. She is planning to send all three of her daughters through high school and maybe to college as well. She brings in tutors to improve their schoolwork, and her oldest child, Javaria, is ranked first in her class. We asked Javaria what she wanted to be when she grew up, thinking she might aspire to be a doctor or lawyer. Javaria cocked her head. “I’d like to do embroidery,” she said. [Read: no matter how much education you give those poor girls of colour, they're going to want to do girly things like sewing.]
As for her husband, Saima said, “We have a good relationship now.” She explained, “We don’t fight, and he treats me well.” [Note the message: men treat women well when women earn enough money for men. There's no mention of patriarchy, of male supremacy, of male domination as a global phenomenon that exists beyond economic realities, even while economic realities may exacerbate tensions. That the tensions exacerbated don't produce women who beat the shit out of men breaking their faces and kicking them in the nuts, systematically, internationally, isn't explained here.] And what about finding another wife who might bear him a son? Saima chuckled at the question: “Now nobody says anything about that.” [No such luck for some white women in the U.S., where polygamy is promoted, including men marrying their own daughters.] Sharifa Bibi, the mother-in-law, looked shocked when we asked whether she wanted her son to take a second wife to bear a son. “No, no,” she said. “Saima is bringing so much to this house. . . . She puts a roof over our heads and food on the table.” [Read: Women are worth what they earn; they have no worth independently of that--particularly in THOSE places OVER THERE, where we kill men who don't usually respect women.]
Sharifa even allows that Saima is now largely exempt from beatings by her husband. ["Exempt"?] “A woman should know her limits, and if not, then it’s her husband’s right to beat her,” Sharifa said. “But if a woman earns more than her husband, it’s difficult for him to discipline her.” [Men beat up women regardless of economics, ethnicity, and nationality. This is a truth demonstrated across most countries where I've written to women. If men don't beat up women, it's because it is in his interests, not hers, to make her "exempt" from beatings.]
WHAT SHOULD we make of stories like Saima’s? [That U.S. media want to exploit her story so we can perpetuate this delusional idea that we are "good" so that we can have an easier time of invading her country and killing her male relatives and her?] Traditionally, the status of women was seen as a “soft” issue — worthy but marginal. ["Traditionally" by whom? By women being beaten and raped? Or "traditionally" by powerful rich white men who get to determine the fates of everyone's lives around the world.] We initially reflected that view ourselves in our work as journalists. [I'd argue they still do.] We preferred to focus instead on the “serious” international issues, like trade disputes or arms proliferation. Our awakening came in China. [Time to move to China to perpetuate stereotypes and promote the holy goodness of corporate Christian white men and their economic system.]
After we married in 1988, we moved to Beijing to be correspondents for The New York Times. Seven months later we found ourselves standing on the edge of Tiananmen Square watching troops fire their automatic weapons at prodemocracy protesters. The massacre claimed between 400 and 800 lives and transfixed the world; wrenching images of the killings appeared constantly on the front page and on television screens.
Yet the following year we came across an obscure but meticulous demographic study that outlined a human rights violation that had claimed tens of thousands more lives. This study found that 39,000 baby girls died annually in China because parents didn’t give them the same medical care and attention that boys received — and that was just in the first year of life. A result is that as many infant girls died unnecessarily every week in China as protesters died at Tiananmen Square. Those Chinese girls never received a column inch of news coverage, and we began to wonder if our journalistic priorities were skewed. [Yes: they weren't reporting what white men do to women and girls and infants of all colours, globally. And you still don't. We get the message here that THOSE inhumane people over there are so callous as to allow girl babies to die. Are they human? Are they as human as the white men who rape infants and girls in the U.S. and trade photos and videos of the rapes with other white men, for pleasure? Are they as humane as the white men who travel to Asia to rape girls and women who are slaves? The issue isn't whether or not female infanticide is an atrocity; the issue is what is the political function of a Western media outlet, and major one, reporting on it while ignoring what white men do to female human beings that is also atrocious. And, there's no mention of the fact that the U.S. does lots of business with China, with THOSE Chinese people who do terribly things to girl babies and children. What does that make us, other than complicit?]
A similar pattern emerged in other countries. [Get ready for more stereotypes, ignoring what white men do.] In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately once every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry — but these rarely constitute news. [But it makes news in the U.S. much more than what U.S. men do to women and girls globally and locally.] When a prominent dissident was arrested in China, we would write a front-page article; when 100,000 girls were kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn’t even consider it news. [And still don't, for the most part. One article doesn't constitute substantive activist reporting.]
Amartya Sen, the ebullient Nobel Prize-winning economist, developed a gauge of gender inequality that is a striking reminder of the stakes involved. “More than 100 million women are missing,” Sen wrote in a classic essay in 1990 in The New York Review of Books, spurring a new field of research. Sen noted that in normal circumstances, women live longer than men, and so there are more females than males in much of the world. Yet in places where girls have a deeply unequal status, they vanish. China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population (and an even greater disproportion among newborns), and India has 108. The implication of the sex ratios, Sen later found, is that about 107 million females are missing from the globe today. Follow-up studies have calculated the number slightly differently, deriving alternative figures for “missing women” of between 60 million and 107 million. [Yes. Patriarchy, misogyny, and gynocide is global. So too is white men's militarism, supremacy, and crimes against humanity--female humanity.]
Girls vanish partly because they don’t get the same health care and food as boys. In India, for example, girls are less likely to be vaccinated than boys and are taken to the hospital only when they are sicker. A result is that girls in India from 1 to 5 years of age are 50 percent more likely to die than boys their age. In addition, ultrasound machines have allowed a pregnant woman to find out the sex of her fetus — and then get an abortion if it is female. [Uh-oh. This means that women and men in the U.S. get to think that THOSE women are immoral and inhumane, unlike the white Christian men who promote corporate greed, misogyny, homophobia, and patriarchy around the world. There will also be no mention of the toll on women's health of having abortions. Anti-abortion activists only ever care about females who AREN'T born.]
The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. ["Global" includes the U.S.] It appears that more girls and women are now missing from the planet, precisely because they are female, than men were killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century. The number of victims of this routine “gendercide” [try "femicide" and a synonym for it, gynocide"--we're not talking about a gender disappearing; we're talking about females disappearing] far exceeds the number of people [half of whom were girls and women] who were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century. [What? No mention of the genocide against American Indians still going on in the 21st century? Do you not even know about that, authors?]
For those women who live, mistreatment is sometimes shockingly brutal. [Just ask any battered wife in the U.S.] If you’re reading this article, the phrase “gender discrimination” might conjure thoughts of unequal pay, underfinanced sports teams or unwanted touching from a boss. [No. It brings to mind realities--not thoughts--of white men raping girls and women around the world, with impunity. It conjures the reality of white class-privileged men organising to take children they abuse away from the women they abused. It conjures realities of men considering raped women acceptable fodder for sexual consumption. It conjures the reality that one in three American Indian women are raped, and the rapists are white at least 80% of the time. It conjures the reality of father-daughter incest being the most common form of child sexual abuse in the U.S. You know, the stuff you don't write about because white men commit it.] In the developing world, meanwhile, millions of women and girls are actually enslaved. [As if girls and women in the U.S. are not?] While a precise number is hard to pin down, the International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency, estimates that at any one time there are 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, including sexual servitude. [Is the author saying that rape is forced labor? Whose labor, exactly?] In Asia alone about one million children working in the sex trade are held in conditions indistinguishable from slavery, according to a U.N. report. [And white U.S. business men flock there and are the "consumers", aka the rapists.] Girls and women are locked in brothels and beaten if they resist, fed just enough to be kept alive and often sedated with drugs — to pacify them and often to cultivate addiction. [Kind of like what is done to poor women and girls on the streets here by pimps and corporate pornographers.] India probably has more modern slaves than any other country. [And who are the procurers? That's a lot of slaves. Who is abusing those slaves sexually? What percent of the rapists are white Western men?]
Another huge burden for women in poor countries is maternal mortality, with one woman dying in childbirth around the world every minute. In the West African country Niger, [we can't leave out stories about sub-Saharan Africa that also ignore the role of European and U.S. white men's economics and munitions in destabilising every country that is unstable in sub-Saharan Africa and perpetrating rape and poverty] a woman stands a one-in-seven chance of dying in childbirth at some point in her life. (These statistics are all somewhat dubious, because maternal mortality isn’t considered significant enough to require good data collection. [By the New York Times.]) For all of India’s shiny new high-rises, a woman there still has a 1-in-70 lifetime chance of dying in childbirth. In contrast, the lifetime risk in the United States is 1 in 4,800 [and what is the stat in the U.S. among poor women without access to proper medical care?] ; in Ireland, it is 1 in 47,600. [Ireland is also a country that does little to stop battery, male supremacy, patriarchal Christian religious extremist domination and anti-lesbian and anti-gay abuses, and rape.] The reason for the gap is not that we don’t know how to save lives of women in poor countries [or, apparently, of poor women in the U.S.]. It’s simply that poor, uneducated women in Africa and Asia have never been a priority either in their own countries or to donor nations. [The U.S. would be one such "donor nation" that is also a destroyer nation.]
ABBAS BE, A BEAUTIFUL teenage girl [she's being discussed in white liberal media and she's of colour; we better tell the readers we think she's beautifull women have got to be beautiful more than they have to be human, according to Western media] in the Indian city of Hyderabad, has chocolate skin, [I doubt that; I expect her skin is made of flesh like everyone else's] black hair and gleaming white teeth — and a lovely smile, which made her all the more marketable. [And that's what's important here--women as earners of money for men, for their countries economies, to stabilise them so non-Christian religious extremists or atheistic Communists don't take over. It's all about doing what's good for rich U.S. white men, folks. That's the subtext. This is why rich U.S. white men cannot ever be critiqued in this article, even though so much of what they do, corporately, and in governments, harm women and girls globally.]
Money was tight in her family, so when she was about 14 she arranged to take a job as a maid in the capital, New Delhi. Instead, she was locked up in a brothel, beaten with a cricket bat, gang-raped and told that she would have to cater to customers. [And similar things happen to girls and women in the U.S.] Three days after she arrived, Abbas and all 70 girls in the brothel were made to gather round and watch as the pimps [were they from the U.S.? Or is that only the procurer-rapists?] made an example of one teenage girl who had fought customers. The troublesome girl was stripped naked, hogtied, humiliated and mocked, beaten savagely and then stabbed in the stomach until she bled to death in front of Abbas and the others. [What exactly is the function of telling us this horrendous, atrocious story? For one thing, it becomes written pornography for men in the U.S. Any graphic violence against girls and women anywhere becomes pornography for men in the U.S.]
Abbas was never paid for her work. Any sign of dissatisfaction led to a beating or worse; two more times, she watched girls murdered by the brothel managers for resisting. Eventually Abbas was freed by police and taken back to Hyderabad. She found a home in a shelter run by Prajwala, an organization that takes in girls rescued from brothels and teaches them new skills. [Let me guess: the organisation is not run by men because men want those girls drug-addicted and readily available in brothels, for rape.] Abbas is acquiring an education and has learned to be a bookbinder; she also counsels other girls about how to avoid being trafficked. As a skilled bookbinder, Abbas is able to earn a decent living, and she is now helping to put her younger sisters through school as well. With an education, they will be far less vulnerable to being trafficked. [With less patriarchs there will be far less pimps and procurers preying on girls and women.] Abbas has moved from being a slave to being a producer, contributing to India’s economic development and helping raise her family. [It's the contribution to a non-Muslim, male-dominated State that's crucial. And we have to be sure she's in either the role of being sexually available to men or the role of a mother. The white Western media and men don't allow women to do neither.]
Perhaps the lesson presented by both Abbas and Saima is the same: In many poor countries, the greatest unexploited resource isn’t oil fields or veins of gold; it is the women and girls who aren’t educated and never become a major presence in the formal economy. [Does it get any more blatant? Girls and women are a "resource", which means they exist for the use of others. Are rich white men a "resource" as well?] With education and with help starting businesses, impoverished women can earn money and support their countries as well as their families. [Because they certainly ought not support only themselves, according to the writers of this article, and corporate media generally.] They represent perhaps the best hope for fighting global poverty. [Why don't they represent the human beings they are, seen as fighting for their own lives, their own health and well-being, not a nation's economic health?]
In East Asia, as we saw in our years of reporting there, women have already benefited from deep social changes. In countries like South Korea and Malaysia, China and Thailand, rural girls who previously contributed negligibly to the economy have gone to school and received educations, giving them the autonomy to move to the city to hold factory jobs. [The urbanisation of humanity is not sustainable. Cities are not sustainable. They use up natural and human "resources". This is not a good thing for the world but will be reported as good in part because it's what the Western White Het Man wants--he wants all the girls he wants to rape in one urban center. It also makes warfare easier. You can just bomb the highly populated cities.] This hugely increased the formal labor force; when the women then delayed childbearing, there was a demographic dividend to the country as well. [Never mind what it did for the women.] In the 1990s, by our estimations, some 80 percent of the employees on the assembly lines in coastal China were female, and the proportion across the manufacturing belt of East Asia was at least 70 percent. [And that manufacturing makes what for whom? How much of what they make is made by and for U.S. corporations that have moved off-shore to exploit Asian women's labor?]
The hours were long and the conditions wretched, just as in the sweatshops of the Industrial Revolution in the West. But peasant women were making money, sending it back home and sometimes becoming the breadwinners in their families. [And the rural more sustainable traditions have been destroyed by this process, globally. It has devastated Indigenous populations who don't tend to live in dense urban areas if following traditional cultural practices. But many Indigenous people across the Americas are being forcibly located there, away from their homelands. This is cultural and spiritual genocide.] They gained new skills that elevated their status. [And it didn't hurt rich white men in the West either.] Westerners encounter sweatshops and see exploitation, and indeed, many of these plants are just as bad as critics say. But it’s sometimes said in poor countries that the only thing worse than being exploited in a sweatshop is not being exploited in a sweatshop. [And these are the only two options the U.S. wants them to have.] Low-wage manufacturing jobs disproportionately benefited women in countries like China because these were jobs for which brute physical force was not necessary and women’s nimbleness [!!! Is it women's nimbleness that makes it women's work to break rocks into small stones on roadways in India? Is it the nimbleness of women in sub-Saharan Africa that results in them carrying heavy containers of potable water for miles?] gave them an advantage over men — which was not the case with agricultural labor or construction or other jobs typically available in poor countries. [Bullshit. Women are made to do that work too.] Strange as it may seem, sweatshops in Asia had the effect of empowering women. [So says you, the person with more options than those.] One hundred years ago, many women in China were still having their feet bound. [In case the white U.S. audience has forgotten. We have women wear six inch heels that deform the feet. Because the U.S. is good to women and women are liberated from patriarchal physically abusive, injurious harm here. Not.] Today, while discrimination and inequality and harassment persist, the culture has been transformed. In the major cities, we’ve found that Chinese men often do more domestic chores than American men typically do. [And why isn't this article also about how these U.S. men are sexist and misogynistic, including to the women in the countries mentioned so far?] And urban parents are often not only happy with an only daughter; they may even prefer one, under the belief that daughters are better than sons at looking after aging parents. [Because, dear reader, that's what the U.S. press thinks all girls and women are for: to take care of nation-states' economies and other people too.]
WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks? One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty [are they going to write that it is caused by globalised white male supremacist capitalism?]: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men. [Right. Blame the poor for being poor. Because Lorde knows there's no unwise spending, by the billions, going on by the U.S. government funding wars and the war industry. And the World Bank and IMF aren't profiting off the poor, making it impossible for poor countries to get out of debt. The problem is poor people spending almost no money unwisely. Got it.] Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week. [Read: these men are wretched and disposable. We might just kill them, soon. We're telling you this so you won't mourn their loss. And white family men in the U.S. don't blow their paychecks on booze, prostitutes, drugs, and gambling? I see a lot of stories like that on night-time news magazine shows. Why don't you mention those lazy bastards?]
Our interviews and perusal of the data available suggest that the poorest families in the world spend approximately 10 times as much (20 percent of their incomes on average) on a combination of alcohol, prostitution, candy, sugary drinks and lavish feasts as they do on educating their children (2 percent). [Their racist-classist interviews and perusal needs some radical investigative journalism.] If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries. [Get it? The problem ISN'T the IMF, the World Bank, global capitalism, greedy white men who rape, or corporate Christianity which undergirds conservatism in the U.S. which keeps genocidal, racist, and woman-killing international public policies in place.] Girls, since they are the ones kept home from school now, would be the biggest beneficiaries. [Actually, that would, more often than not, be rich white men who are the BIGGEST beneficiaries.] Moreover, one way to reallocate family expenditures in this way is to put more money in the hands of women. [More, but not too much. Because if women become multi-billionaires like white men in the U.S., you're going to see something done about that, and it won't be pro-woman.] A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier. [And these authors are not going to get into how the U.S. manufactures and mass produces misogyny and sexism worldwide, are they?]
In Ivory Coast, one research project examined the different crops that men and women grow for their private kitties: men grow coffee, cocoa and pineapple, and women grow plantains, bananas, coconuts and vegetables. Some years the “men’s crops” have good harvests and the men are flush with cash, and other years it is the women who prosper. Money is to some extent shared. But even so, the economist Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says. [So let's put women in charge of all the G20 countries, then, and see what happens. I mean they're making an argument here for women in leadership, aren't they?]
Such research has concrete implications: for example, donor countries should nudge poor countries to adjust their laws so that when a man dies, his property is passed on to his widow rather than to his brothers. [And donor countries could erase debts poor countries owe to rich countries. And the men from the donor countries who have been exploiting the girls and women's labor and exploiting the girls and women, sexually, in trafficking and in slavery, could be a legal change the U.S. makes as well, no?]

Governments should make it easy for women to hold property and bank accounts — 1 percent of the world’s landowners are women — and they should make it much easier for microfinance institutions to start banks so that women can save money. [And who much U.S. land does the U.S. support Indigenous women owning? What's that I hear? Crickets chirping? Hey, everyone, where'd ya go?]
OF COURSE, IT’S FAIR to ask: empowering women is well and good, but can one do this effectively? Does foreign aid really work? [No.] William Easterly, an economist at New York University, has argued powerfully that shoveling money at poor countries accomplishes little. [Shoveling? What a dehumanising, classist, racist term to use.] Some Africans, including Dambisa Moyo, author of “Dead Aid,” have said the same thing. The critics note that there has been no correlation between amounts of aid going to countries and their economic growth rates. [But there is a correlation between how much debt poor countries are forced to accrue due to international trade agreements that rich countries make with one another, and how poor impoverished countries remain. And how the poor countries become increasingly dependent on the rich ones. What might work is all the countries that are not the U.S. telling the U.S. to go fuck itself, and refusing to participate in any way in its economic system.]
Our take is that, frankly, there is something to these criticisms. Helping people is far harder than it looks. [Oh for God's sake, authors. Please. We don't help them, see? They help US get richer. That's how this globalisation thing works. We've NEVER helped them. They aren't our children. We aren't smarter or wiser than they are. We're far more corrupt and greedy, in fact. We're more soulless. We've invaded and colonised and exploited our way to where we are. We've accomplished this by committing more genocide and mass military murder than any other nation on Earth.] Aid experiments often go awry, or small successes turn out to be difficult to replicate or scale up. Yet we’ve also seen, anecdotally and in the statistics, evidence that some kinds of aid have been enormously effective. The delivery of vaccinations and other kinds of health care has reduced the number of children who die every year before they reach the age of 5 to less than 10 million today from 20 million in 1960. [And we could have wiped out many diseases by now, and prevented millions of people dying from AIDS in Africa and elsewhere, if we'd acted sooner to address the problem here in the mid-1980s.]
In general, aid appears to work best when it is focused on health, education and microfinance (although microfinance has been somewhat less successful in Africa than in Asia). And in each case, crucially, aid has often been most effective when aimed at women and girls; when policy wonks do the math, they often find that these investments have a net economic return. [Fuck the policy wonks.] Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck. [That's about as poor a choice of metaphors as it gets, considering that white men get more bang for their buck by raping girls and women throughout Asia and other impoverished regions of the world.]
In the early 1990s, the United Nations and the World Bank began to proclaim the potential resource that women and girls represent. “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world,” Larry Summers wrote when he was chief economist of the World Bank. Private aid groups and foundations shifted gears as well. “Women are the key to ending hunger in Africa,” declared the Hunger Project. The Center for Global Development issued a major report explaining “why and how to put girls at the center of development.” CARE took women and girls as the centerpiece of its anti-poverty efforts.

“Gender inequality hurts economic growth,” Goldman Sachs [!!! You mean the corrupt, greedy mutherfuckers?] concluded in a 2008 research report that emphasized how much developing countries could improve their economic performance by educating girls. [And did they also ensure that white men won't go there to rape and traffic them?]
Bill Gates recalls once being invited to speak in Saudi Arabia and finding himself facing a segregated audience. Four-fifths of the listeners were men, on the left. The remaining one-fifth were women, all covered in black cloaks and veils, on the right. [Cue the stereotype reinforcement music--again.] A partition separated the two groups. Toward the end, in the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience noted that Saudi Arabia aimed to be one of the Top 10 countries in the world in technology by 2010 and asked if that was realistic. “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country,” Gates said, “you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.” The small group on the right erupted in wild cheering. [Because Bill Gates, according to this newpaper, is a Great White Man, and a Hero to Women Worldwide. Bill Gates is a symbol of U.S. goodness, which does nothing to address the U.S. atrocities being committed regardless of what Bill Gates tells any audiences anywhere.]
Policy makers have gotten the message as well. President Obama has appointed a new White House Council on Women and Girls. [Whoopeee. What's he going to do about trafficking and battery, poverty, incest, and the mass rape of women by men, here, in the U.S.?] Perhaps he was indoctrinated by his mother, who was one of the early adopters of microloans to women when she worked to fight poverty in Indonesia. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is a member of the White House Council, and she has also selected a talented activist, Melanne Verveer, to direct a new State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues. On Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has put Senator Barbara Boxer in charge of a new subcommittee that deals with women’s issues. [And this means nothing, necessarily.]
Yet another reason to educate and empower women is that greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. [Yeah, now the writers are going to get to the racist anti-Muslim, pro-Christian cold heart of the matter.] It has long been known that a risk factor for turbulence and violence is the share of a country’s population made up of young people. Now it is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor [this wouldn't have been articulated clearly and convincingly forty three years ago, would it? And forty-two, and forty-one, and so on?]; the reasons aren’t fully understood, [Yes. They are. They're very well understood, actually.] but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden [!!!] culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room. [And that's not due to testosterone, folks. That's due to a practiced ideology called male supremacy; and an entrenched social system called patriarchy.] That’s in part why the Joint Chiefs of Staff [who are what? Feminists?] and international security specialists are puzzling over how to increase girls’ education in countries like Afghanistan — and why generals have gotten briefings from Greg Mortenson, who wrote about building girls’ schools in his best seller, “Three Cups of Tea.” [Here's one idea--just hear me out: stop invading Afghanistan. Stop raping and killing girls and women there. Stop terrorising the people. Stop polluting their land. Stop putting billions of dollars in the hands of corrupt warlords.] Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force. [And the terrorism against Muslims that conservative--and liberal--Christian U.S.ers have been callously waging for a long time, including the U.S.'s support of Israeli Apartheid practices and anti-Palestinian brutality.]
SO WHAT WOULD an agenda for fighting poverty through helping women look like? [Ending patriarchy? Ending male domination of women and girls? Stopping incest, child molestation, and rape? Stopping wars? Stopping globalised capitalism? Stopping racism and white supremacy? Ending trafficking?] You might begin with the education of girls [oh, right. Educating girls to become capitalists. Such an easy answer with no implication that rich white men in the U.S. are invested in destroying people worldwide, as well as the lands upon which they try to live with dignity.  Read the work of John Perkins if you want an insider's report of how wretched we can be, and still are. "Education is the solution!" is one of those liberal catch-phrases that means "We aren't going to stop our human rights abuses. But if you want to try and get a few people educated while we destroy you, go for it!"] — which doesn’t just mean building schools. There are other innovative means at our disposal. A study in Kenya by Michael Kremer, a Harvard economist, examined six different approaches to improving educational performance, from providing free textbooks to child-sponsorship programs. The approach that raised student test scores the most was to offer girls who had scored in the top 15 percent of their class on sixth-grade tests a $19 scholarship for seventh and eighth grade (and the glory of recognition at an assembly). Boys also performed better, apparently because they were pushed by the girls or didn’t want to endure the embarrassment of being left behind. [See, girls are good for boys--there's a reason to invest in them! Girls are good for a lot of things! They're just not good enough if they only help themselves, their sisters, mothers, and female friends.]
Another Kenyan study found that giving girls a new $6 school uniform every 18 months significantly reduced dropout rates and pregnancy rates. [Did the uniform come with mace, self-defence training, and a chastity belt?] Likewise, there’s growing evidence that a cheap way to help keep high-school girls in school is to help them manage menstruation. [Manage?? Like a bank account? Do makes get to "manage" to not stick their dicks in girls and women?] For fear of embarrassing leaks and stains, girls sometimes stay home during their periods, and the absenteeism puts them behind and eventually leads them to drop out. Aid workers are experimenting with giving African teenage girls sanitary pads, along with access to a toilet where they can change them. The Campaign for Female Education, an organization devoted to getting more girls into school in Africa, helps girls with their periods, and a new group, Sustainable Health Enterprises, is trying to do the same. [Talk about a band-aid solution to an international problem! But it's good that girls are getting menstrual pads if they want them. As long as they aren't made with dangerous chemicals.]
And so, if President Obama wanted to adopt a foreign-aid policy that built on insights into the role of women in development, he would do well to start with education. [No. He would do well to stop the U.S. military from warring against girls and women internationally. He'd do well to take up the matter of trafficking. He'd do well to make sure rapists and batterers can't get custody of children.] We would suggest a $10 billion effort over five years to educate girls around the world. This initiative would focus on Africa but would also support — and prod [like cattle]— Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan to do better. [To do better than whom? The terrorist U.S. who is mercilessly bombing Afghanistan and Pakistan?] This plan would also double as population policy, for it would significantly reduce birthrates — and thus help poor countries overcome the demographic obstacles to economic growth. [Oh my god. That's so fucked up I'm not sure what to say right now. I'll say this: THAT'S SOME FUCKED-UP RACIST-MISOGYNIST SHIT! And shall we institute a plan to sterilise the women too? And the girls? Howsabout we stop producing white babies? How does that strike you, authors? And don't you think warring against these countries for years and years is "population control"? Don't you think polluting their land and destroying their cities makes it difficult to raise a family?]
But President Obama might consider two different proposals as well. We would recommend that the United States sponsor a global drive to eliminate iodine deficiency around the globe, by helping countries iodize salt. About a third of households in the developing world do not get enough iodine, and a result is often an impairment in brain formation in the fetal stages. [So, just to be clear, is the "yes" to iodine distribution a "no" to stopping the wars? And the globalising racist patriarchy? And no to stopping pimps and procurers?] For reasons that are unclear, this particularly affects female fetuses and typically costs children 10 to 15 I.Q. points. Research by Erica Field of Harvard found that daughters of women given iodine performed markedly better in school. Other research suggests that salt iodization would yield benefits worth nine times the cost. [Warfare also reduces IQ, especially in the children the U.S. military kills. Sexual trauma also reduces IQ, especially in the girls who never become educated because they're drug addicted to stay dissociated enough to have white men rape them all day, and night. But, sure, do that iodine thing.]
We would also recommend that the United States announce a 12-year, $1.6 billion program to eradicate obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that is one of the worst scourges of women in the developing world. [Worse than U.S. invasions, occupations, corporate greed, destruction of land, poisoning of water, relocation of people?] An obstetric fistula, which is a hole created inside the body by a difficult childbirth, leaves a woman incontinent, smelly, often crippled and shunned by her village — yet it can be repaired for a few hundred dollars. [As it should be, not because it is "smelly", but because it is a serious health issue and quality of life issue for women.] Dr. Lewis Wall, president of the Worldwide Fistula Fund, and Michael Horowitz, a conservative agitator on humanitarian issues, have drafted the 12-year plan — and it’s eminently practical and built on proven methods. Evidence that fistulas can be prevented or repaired comes from impoverished Somaliland, a northern enclave of Somalia, where an extraordinary nurse-midwife named Edna Adan has built her own maternity hospital to save the lives of the women around her. A former first lady of Somalia and World Health Organization official, Adan used her savings to build the hospital, which is supported by a group of admirers in the U.S. who call themselves Friends of Edna Maternity Hospital. [It's never enough to note the great work women from other countries do in their own countries. We've got to be sure to make the U.S. look good, pat ourselves on the back, while we bombs people and rape them, causing fistulas and other health problems in women, like death.]
For all the legitimate concerns about how well humanitarian aid is spent, investments in education, iodizing salt and maternal health all have a proven record of success. And the sums are modest: all three components of our plan together amount to about what the U.S. has provided Pakistan since 9/11 — a sum that accomplished virtually nothing worthwhile either for Pakistanis or for Americans. [Yes, about that?]
ONE OF THE MANY aid groups that for pragmatic reasons has increasingly focused on women is Heifer International, a charitable organization based in Arkansas that has been around for decades. The organization gives cows, goats and chickens to farmers in poor countries. On assuming the presidency of Heifer in 1992, the activist Jo Luck traveled to Africa, where one day she found herself sitting on the ground with a group of young women in a Zimbabwean village. [So she sat on the ground, huh? All the way down, was it? My god, what a saint. Look, it's not that Jo Luck isn't doing good work; it's that the women of Zimbabwe are also doing good work and are also sitting on the ground and they get no credit for the work they do in this article; only Jo Luck is made to seem heroic. Why is that?] One of them was Tererai Trent.
Tererai is a long-faced woman with high cheekbones and a medium brown complexion; she has a high forehead and tight cornrows. [And I need to know this WHY?] Like many women around the world, she doesn’t know when she was born and has no documentation of her birth. As a child, Tererai didn’t get much formal education, partly because she was a girl and was expected to do household chores. [Like poor rural girls in the U.S.] She herded cattle and looked after her younger siblings. Her father would say, Let’s send our sons to school, because they will be the breadwinners. Tererai’s brother, Tinashe, was forced to go to school, where he was an indifferent student. Tererai pleaded to be allowed to attend but wasn’t permitted to do so. Tinashe brought his books home each afternoon, and Tererai pored over them and taught herself to read and write. Soon she was doing her brother’s homework every evening.
The teacher grew puzzled, for Tinashe was a poor student in class but always handed in exemplary homework. Finally, the teacher noticed that the handwriting was different for homework and for class assignments and whipped Tinashe until he confessed the truth. [This is part of the NYT story so we can feel superior to them. We don't whip our students. We just neglect them and teach them shit they don't need to know. For example, we don't teach the males how not to rape, or how not to be sexist; we don't teach the girls they can be lesbian and should never be mistreated by boys or men; we don't teach them how to create local, sustainable economies and communities.] Then the teacher went to the father, told him that Tererai was a prodigy and begged that she be allowed to attend school. After much argument, the father allowed Tererai to attend school for a couple of terms, but then married her off at about age 11. [And let's not forget about all the girls in the U.S. who are incested by male relatives, usually dad or step-dad, from age one--or less--to the age when they leave home and end up on the street, for pimps to exploit and rape.]
Tererai’s husband barred her from attending school, resented her literacy and beat her whenever she tried to practice her reading by looking at a scrap of old newspaper. [Again with the theme of THOSE men being less humane than U.S. men; we're not more humane, just to remind you.] Indeed, he beat her for plenty more as well. She hated her marriage but had no way out. “If you’re a woman and you are not educated, what else?” she asks. [A question we might hear from U.S. girls pimped and procured during their grade school years.]
Yet when Jo Luck came and talked to Tererai and other young women in her village, Luck kept insisting that things did not have to be this way. She kept saying that they could achieve their goals, repeatedly using the word “achievable.” The women caught the repetition and asked the interpreter to explain in detail what “achievable” meant. That gave Luck a chance to push forward. “What are your hopes?” she asked the women, through the interpreter. Tererai and the others were puzzled by the question, because they didn’t really have any hopes. [Like the girls who are trafficked in the U.S.] But Luck pushed them to think about their dreams, and reluctantly, they began to think about what they wanted.
Tererai timidly voiced hope of getting an education. Luck pounced and told her that she could do it, that she should write down her goals and methodically pursue them. After Luck and her entourage disappeared, Tererai began to study on her own, in hiding from her husband, while raising her five children. Painstakingly, with the help of friends, she wrote down her goals on a piece of paper: “One day I will go to the United States of America,” she began, for Goal 1. [The NYT loves shit like that. They eat it for breakfast. "The U.S. is good, and only good, is a story that needs to be told enough times each day in the U.S. corporate media for us to forget just how evil much of what we do is around the world. Wait! Did I say "evil"? We're not allowed to call ourselves EVIL! I"m sorry. I meant "not so good as all that".] She added that she would earn a college degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. — all exquisitely absurd dreams for a married cattle herder in Zimbabwe who had less than one year’s formal education. [Yes. And then there are the stories of the U.S. economically coercing women who are basically doctors in South Africa, out of So. Africa, to come to the U.S. for a living wage. Now, the U.S. could pay those women to stay in their homeland and give them medical supplies to help ease the suffering of AIDS, but no. The U.S. takes away many of South Africa's best nurses--who are basically doctors--leaving South Africans to die. That's in the "not good" category, yes?] But Tererai took the piece of paper and folded it inside three layers of plastic to protect it, and then placed it in an old can. She buried the can under a rock where she herded cattle.

Then Tererai took correspondence classes and began saving money. Her self-confidence grew as she did brilliantly in her studies, and she became a community organizer for Heifer. She stunned everyone with superb schoolwork, and the Heifer aid workers encouraged her to think that she could study in America. One day in 1998, she received notice that she had been admitted to Oklahoma State University. [Where the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism is very intense, just like most of the rest of the U.S.]
Some of the neighbors thought that a woman should focus on educating her children, not herself. “I can’t talk about my children’s education when I’m not educated myself,” Tererai responded. “If I educate myself, then I can educate my children.” So she climbed into an airplane and flew to America.
At Oklahoma State, Tererai took every credit she could and worked nights to make money. [Because she couldn't possibly be funded to go to school.] She earned her undergraduate degree, brought her five children to America and started her master’s, then returned to her village. She dug up the tin can under the rock and took out the paper on which she had scribbled her goals. She put check marks beside the goals she had fulfilled and buried the tin can again.
In Arkansas, she took a job working for Heifer — while simultaneously earning a master’s degree part time. When she had her M.A., Tererai again returned to her village. After embracing her mother and sister, she dug up her tin can and checked off her next goal. Now she is working on her Ph.D. at Western Michigan University.
Tererai has completed her course work and is completing a dissertation about AIDS programs among the poor in Africa. She will become a productive economic asset for Africa and a significant figure in the battle against AIDS. And when she has her doctorate, Tererai will go back to her village and, after hugging her loved ones, go out to the field and dig up her can again. [Disney or some other major studio, no doubt, is making a movie of this. But does this offset all the doctor-like nurses we economically stole from South Africa, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of deaths there, from AIDS?]
There are many metaphors for the role of foreign assistance. For our part, we like to think of aid as a kind of lubricant, a few drops of oil in the crankcase of the developing world, so that gears move freely again on their own. [Economic gears that systematically crush human lives daily--mostly of poor girls and women around the world.] That is what the assistance to Tererai amounted to: a bit of help where and when it counts most, which often means focusing on women like her. And now Tererai is gliding along freely on her own — truly able to hold up half the sky. [And what about the water? And their nations' economies? And men's egos?]

Nicholas D. Kristof is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist and Sheryl WuDunn is a former Times correspondent who works in finance and philanthropy. This essay is adapted from their book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will be published next month by Alfred A. Knopf. You can learn more about “Half the Sky” at