As early as the 9th century, Khmer people respected women, giving them the right to own property, the right to conduct business, and honoring female images in their temples. Devata.org is dedicated to understanding the role of ancient women in Southeast Asia, and to sharing that knowledge with the modern world to inspire equality, education and advancement for women.
A new book presents compelling evidence that unleashing women’s full potential is the key to economic progress in the world. “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” offers practical, effective ways to empower women and to improve the world we live in.
Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are the husband-and-wife Pulitzer Prize winning team that wrote the book, and they practice what they preach. The great news is that it’s easy to do something good; there are plenty of quality organizations that maximize the influence of your contributions, no matter how modest.
Here are three ways you can help today:
1. Help girls go to school.
Girls who get an education have fewer children, earn more money, and are able to help younger siblings. American Assistance for Cambodia enables individuals and organizations to revolutionize life in a village forever by actually building a new school for as little as $13,000.
In 2005, DatAsia, the publishing firm that supports Devata.org, funded construction of Srei Devata Middle School in Kampong Thom Province, as well as an initial operating budget, through AAfC. While Nick Kristof doesn’t flaunt the fact, he and his family also funded a school with this efficient foundation in 2008.
Another excellent program AAfC operates to help girls in Cambodia is Girls Be Ambitious, where uneducated girls are at great risk of being trafficked into brothels or exploitative labor situations in factories. For $10 a month, you can keep a girl in school and help her build a better future.
2. Support woman’s business and education.
A microloan of $50 can help a woman start a business, producing income she can use to feed her children and send them to school. Two great groups helping women around the world are Mercy Corps and BRAC.
Have you read about Mukhtar Mai’s courageous efforts to bring educational equality to girls and women in one of Pakistan’s poorest regions? Her story and other accounts from Pakistan were so shocking that we immediately donated to her cause on behalf of the students of Srei Devata School. Cambodia is slowly recovering from its time of genocidal horror, but many others still live in the agony and ignorance of human cruelty. Anyone can help with the click of a mouse and PayPal.
3. Make girls smarter.
How can a few pennies per person change lives? Many pregnant women living in poverty don’t get enough iodine, so their fetuses’ brains do not develop properly. Their children routinely lose ten to 15 IQ points—particularly girls, for reasons not fully understood. The solution: Iodize salt, at the cost of a couple of pennies per person per year.
Helen Keller International provides technical assistance to establish nutrition and eye health programs in partnership with host countries throughout the world. Did you know that 80% of blindness worldwide is preventable? Neither did I.
For details go to Helen Keller International.
There you have it. Three ways and multiple efficient foundations that enable you to improve the lives of women now. Do you have $10? $100? Pick one and see how it feels.
Article by Kent Davis