Week 13 — Empowering Women

Part I — Empowering Young Women

Women have always been oppressed, and they still are today. The first step to initiating social change is to create awareness. All that young women know is what they are shown. If they are told that their only life option is a domestic one, that’s all they know. That’s why it’s important that there are leaders who create social awareness to let young girls and women know that they can choose differently.

A successful example of this can be shown through Denise Dunnings efforts in Malawi. By creating social awareness, she started a movement against young girls being married before 21 years of age. One important factor in Dunning’s program is that she raises leaders in the local community to help spread the message. There are older Malawi women who are also involved. This is even more effective for young girls to see older women from their community giving them support.

Yvette Mulongo grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With help from the United Nations Population Fund, Mulongo has coordinated the implementation of medical assistance and neonatal care. They also provide young women with medial rehabilitation from sexual violence. Rape is used as a tool of war in the DRC, and sexually transmitted diseases outbreaks can be detrimental to the woman population.

Yvette Mulongo

Part II — Holistic Approaches to Stop the Violence

Ultimately most of the reasoning behind most acts of sexual violence, especially those committed in developing countries, is due to the way that women are viewed. In the case of Boko Haram, women are seen as subservient. The men of Boko Haram see the women they kidnap as objects for their own pleasure or to satisfy their own needs.

Many of the emotional trauma sexual assault victims experience in developing countries are the very similar to what victims experience in Western countries. There’s a pattern of victim blaming, as Rachel Jewkes pointed out in her article “If they rape me, I can’t blame them.” Women all over the world struggle with these feelings. Another example was addressed in Katherine Wood’s article, “He forced me to love him.” Often times young people equate love with sex as if they are the same, and victims of sexual assault are often left feeling confused after they are attacked.

The difference between women residing in Western countries, is that there are more resources and opportunities for them to receive help than women in developing countries. Support groups and education initiatives are some of the best ways to prevent sexual assault.

That’s why it’s so important for women in developing countries to receive education about rape and sexual assault.


Week 12 — Women in the Workplace and Microfinance

Women Marginalized in the Workplace

Women have been marginalized from the work force in just about every culture. Western societies have mad progress concerning women in the workplace. There are still issues such as the wage gap, but women have many more career options in Western countries than they did just fifty years ago.

I developing countries, especially some in Africa, this is not the case. Progress is in the future, not the present. Women continue to be marginalized from the workforce, putting them at a higher risk for poverty and health issues.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a writer who focuses on the economic development of women in developing countries, says part of it’s the way that we see women. “We underestimate ourselves and are underrated by others.”

“When we talk about me who are exceeding, we rightly consider them icons, or pioneers, or innovators to be emulated. And when we talk about women they are either exceptions to be dismissed or aberrations to be ignored.”

We see entrepreneur and associate the word with men. We see microfinance and associate it with women. Those kinds of view points are part of the problem.

Women and Micro-loans

There are positives and negatives when considering micro-loans for women in developing countries. Money for women is power, and the opportunity to state a small business can give women that power. But as Naila Kabeer brings up in Conflict over Credit, there are times when women are doing all the hard work, but they aren’t reaping the benefits. Often the money a women brings home from her small business goes to the man of the household whether it’s a husband, father, brother, etc. So in these cases, women are not experience financial freedom. Some argue that they still gain power in confidence, in being able to own and run their own business, which is true, but there is still a false sense of economic independence.

Empowering Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC has several organizations that support women through micro-loans such as Opportunity International or KIVA.

The World Bank has financially supported microfinance efforts in the DRC to help empower women financially. 

Week Eleven — International Aid and Finance

Grameen Bank Model

In Ghana, the Grameen Foundation has worked with the Ghana health service to improve maternal and neonatal care. One of the ways in which they’ve done this is by creating mobile apps through the Mobile Technology for Community Health. One of the apps they’ve created called the Mobile Midwife Application alerts pregnant women, new mothers, and their families with “time-specific” information about their pregnancies and childcare via text message. Another app they developed is call the Nurses Application. It collects patient data and uploads those files to a database. This makes it easier for nurses to track their patients.

In Kenya, the Grameen Foundation paired with Farm Concern International, developed a mobile system to alert farmers with important and time-sensitive financial information concerning their crops. Grameen also created the Fairtrade Access Fund which lends short-term, micro-loans to small farmers who would otherwise never be able to get a loan.

KIVA is another example of an organization that gives micro-loans to small time farmers in developing countries. The Hunger Project has also developed microfinance programs to help out smaller businesses in underdeveloped countries.

Moyo’s Interlinked Stages

In Dead Aid, Moyo talks about how no more aid should be given to aid-dependent countries so that they can develop on their own. She has a three-stage process to help these countries become more dependent.

1. Developing an economic plan that reduces a country’s aid-dependency each year.

2. Reducing spending and trimming national budgets will reduce the amount of capital needed in the short-term to give time for foreign direct investment, trade, and other kinds of investments. It will also give time to spur the economy.

3. Strengthening institutions within the actual countries to ensure that progress is not lost and growth can continue

This directly contradicts Sach’s point of view in that international foreign aid is the best way to end extreme poverty.

Sangu Delle has found that most people want jobs instead of being entrepreneurs. Giving larger amounts to one entrepreneur to create massive businesses that creates jobs. These businesses are more likely to create international connections. Micro-finance loans are not going to solve Africa’s economic crisis. They are only temporary solutions.

Delle is the co-founder of Golden Palm Investments, a company that backs larger startups. He’s also worked at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Valiant Capital Partners.

Herman Chinery-Hesse is a Ghanaian entrepreneur that has developed a profitable software company. But he’s found that international foreign aid has been an obstacle when he’s trying to develop his business. NGOs will offer his services to his clients for free and he loses business. Unless African business and institutions can develop independently, countries will continue to be dependent and rely on it.

Both of the men featured in these videos could be considered cheetahs. The both have studied in Western countries, but are returning to their African, home countries to work on developing businesses and institutions there. Delle is currently pursuing an MBA at Harvard, and Chinery-Hesse studied at Texas State University.

Week Nine — Sachs and Moyo

Part I: Sachs

Chapter 15

In this chapter Sachs refers to the “rich” as those in the top one percent income level. This excludes average and middle class households. He’s only referring to the “richest of the rich”. He talks about how income disparity is continuing to increase, and because of that the “one percent” are so incredible wealthy that they alone could eradicate extreme poverty if they distributed their funds.

In some ways, I do agree with the idea that those who are the wealthiest have a responsibility to take some kind of action to help. When I think about one of Sachs’ main points — that if the wealth were distributed even in the slightest way, extreme poverty could be over — the sacrifice seems necessary. However, it gets more tricky when you try to put that into practice. I don’t agree with it having to be enforced by taxation. It should be up to the earner of the money to do what they will with it — that’s a right that shouldn’t taken away.

In 2015, there has been an influx in refugees from Central African Republic to the Democratic Republic of Congo that has put a strain on the surrounding communities and the government. Needs to be met in DRC are food security, health, water and sanitation. 

The influx of CAR refugees into DRC.
The influx of CAR refugees into DRC.

According to the World Bank data, both population and poverty levels stayed roughly the same from 2005 to 2012. Eighty-seven percent of the population is living in poverty.

Chapter 16

I have heard of some of these myths that Sachs proposes such at “Corruption is the Culprit”, “A Democracy Deficit”, and “Lack of Modern Values”. (Sachs 310-315). There are some points in all these myths that I agree with, and there are other points that I don’t. For instance, Sachs talks a lot about racial prejudices and that Westerner’s tie all African’s together and assume that they couldn’t possibly handle the implementing foreign aid tools themselves. I do agree that this viewpoint does exist.

What Sachs means by “thinking globally” is that eliminating poverty is a global responsibility because it affects everyone. “No single country can do it on its own” (Sach 327). And ultimately eliminating poverty will benefit the global community as a whole. That’s why it’s important to “think globally”.  For example, when Sachs discusses the myths about corrupt governments, we can think globally by recognized the roots problems. African countries are poorly governed because they are poor themselves and without resources. It’s not because African people cannot handle ruling their own countries.

Part II

Though Moyo supports Chinese investment in Africa, she does have some criticisms concerning Chinia’s record on governance and human rights. China’s involvement with Africa is purely for business reasons, and specifically for oil. China is not there to give humanitarian aid. However, as China invests in Africa, it is in their best interest to improve the development of African nations. According to Moyo, Western countries do not expect China to “micro-manage” government abuses made by African countries.

Week 14 — Women’s Rights

Part I — Women are put at risk

Discrimination among women a withholding of their rights within all countries stems from systemic and institutional misogyny and sexism. Two of the most detrimental effects of gender inequality are not being able to go to school, and not having the proper medical treatment.

In most African countries girls are allowed to go to school, but young women still face obstacles in getting there. Almost always if there is only enough money to send one child to school, a family will send their son instead of their daughter. This shows young girls that they are not worth as much as their brothers.

In her article Why Are So Many Women Dying from Ebola?, Lauren Wolfe discusses how cultural norms between men and women led to more women getting sick and dying. In most African societies, women are the caretakers. That is one of their main roles in the household. Rarely will men ever take care of women when they are ill. Therefore more women are exposed to the ebola virus.

Part II — Economic opportunities

When women are given the opportunity to recognize their full economic potential, it affects their entire community. The women in the community shown above worked together to invest in each others businesses and in new businesses. It also increases the development of the community. One of the women from the video was able to provide a well for her business, but it also became a well used by the surrounding neighbors.

Women are less likely to experience extreme poverty because they are financially independent and they don’t have to rely on any men to survive.

Women are only half of the population. There are so many more opportunities for development on a much larger scale when they are able to be financially independent and contribute to their communities, villages, cities, etc.

Week Eight — Poverty Reduction

Part I

In his book, The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs discusses poverty reduction strategy plans. These plans are specifically designed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. He states that most underdeveloped countries have poverty reduction strategy plans that they have developed with the help of the World Bank or the IMF. Sachs mentions that both Ghana and Ethiopia have “strategy plans of notable quality in Africa” (Sachs 270).

Ghana — The Country Strategy Partnership Strategy developed by the World Bank is based on three main goals: improving economic institutions, improving competitiveness and job creation, and protecting the poor and vulnerable. The report claims that it will take approximately $3 billion to complete the projects, and $2.1 billion of that comes from the support of the International Development Association. Three hundred and eighty-two million dollars will be reserved specifically for the development of six operations. “The six regional projects in West Africa, are in transport, energy, agriculture, higher education and trade. In transport, two regional corridors are being supported jointly with other donors, the Abidjan Lagos corridor along the coast, and the Bamako Ouagadougou Tema corridor.”

Ethiopia — This strategy plan seems less developed than the one for Ghana. The first pillar for this plan includes creating a macroeconomic stable environment for the country by increasing agricultural productivity, manufacturing competitiveness and improving access to financial services for small businesses. It also includes improvements for infrastructure. The second pillar talks about developing and improving upon social services for those in need. This includes food insecurity programs.

In Moyo’s book Dead Aid, the capital solution is moving over towards bonds markets for investing in foreign aid. Issuing bonds to international investors would “help their development programs, including infrastructure, education, and healthcare” (Moyo 77). In order for this to work, countries must acquire ratings. Moyo suggests that reputable international agencies be responsible for doing this. “The rating is a guide to the investors of the risk involved — the likelihood that a country will repay its loans — and therefore determines the cost of the country’s borrowing” (Moyo 78).

The Democratic Republic of Congo does not have a rating according to the World Nations Online, and neither does Malawi. The bordering countries Uganda and Rwanda both have ratings. Uganda has a B+ rating, and Rwanda has B rating.

Part II

In Dead Aid,  Moyo says it’s imperative that African countries improve its amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in order for its growth to improve. There’s an abundance of investment opportunities in African countries, but investors are often wary due to the lack of infrastructure in some areas. There’s also the bureaucratic regulations and restraints in African countries that make it difficult for investors to do business.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows in the Democratic Republic of Congo are very low due to conflicts such as “war, economic and political instability, corruption and anti-trade political decisions.”

Corruption also poses a large issue for investors. This includes the misappropriation of funds by political figures.

Week 14: Gender Equality Policies and Economic Equality for Women

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A happy illustration of girls’ empowerment. Photo: © Panos / Hamish Wilson. From http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/july-2005/africa-and-challenge-millennium-development-goals
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The logo for Our Africa, an organization that provides orphan children living with SOS families the resources to create a short film about their country and their own lives and dreams for the future. From http://www.our-africa.org/about-this-site

Despite the continued gender gap between men and women, progress is being realized throughout Africa. As Our Africa reminds us, achieving equality takes time. This is why policies are continuously being proposed and implemented in the present to help improve the lives of women in the future. One great goal has been to educate and empower young girls. When scholarships are given to girls or their families are heavily encouraged to enroll their daughters in formal education, women become better equipped to share decision-making and pursue their own careers. This, in turn, leads to a more equal society and productive country. Mathilde Kayitesi, the coordinator of a woman’s organization for peace education and conflict resolution in Rwanda, claimed that girls and boys have equal rights to an education and that because of this, her country is heading in the right direction. Additionally, in countries such as Rwanda and Tanzania, the constitutions have been amended to include a requirement for the government to be composed of a particular percentage of women. Such a policy provides women with exceptional access to high-ranking political positions in which they can further address the pressing issues of gender inequality. For example, Rwanda’s high number of women in parliament facilitated the passing of laws that enforce more severe punishment of anyone committing violence against women.

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Two women in Sierra Leone with Ebola info cards. Photo: UN Women/Emma Vincent. From http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/10/sierra-leone-ebola-response

Of course, more needs to be done to help create a more sustainable gender equality. For instance, in “Why Are So Many Women Dying From Ebola?”, Lauren Wolfe discusses how policies governing infectious disease scenarios do not acknowledge the gender differential that exists in the morbidity and mortality of certain communicable diseases. She asserts, “…When women are the primary victims of an epidemic, few are willing to recognize that this is the case, ask why, and build responses accordingly. Indeed, experts say that too little is being done… to determine in advance of outbreaks, for instance, how understanding gender roles might help in the development of a containment or prevention strategy” (Wolfe, p. 2). During the Ebola outbreak, women continued their traditional duties of caring for the sick. Because this disease spreads through contact with an infected individual’s blood or body fluids, women were disproportionately afflicted. The analysis and acceptance of this correlation could lead to vital policy change that protects women.

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A woman shop owner. From http://www.icrw.org/what-we-do/economic-empowerment
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A quote from VSA New Zealand’s CEO on the benefits of economic opportunity and empowerment of women. From http://www.vsa.org.nz

Economic opportunity is one of the best equalizers of gender disparities. Maintaining a steady income gives women the ability to make their own decisions regarding work, family, housing, health, and so much more. A woman would no longer be forced into marriage or be bound to remain dependent on an abusive husband. Amazingly enough, women are not the only ones who gain from this economic opportunity. As the IMF explains, “Aguirre and others (2012) suggest that raising the female labor force participation rate (FLFPR) to country-specific male levels would, for instance, raise GDP in the United States by 5 percent, in Japan by 9 percent, in the United Arab Emirates by 12 percent, and in Egypt by 34 percent” (IMF, p. 4). These estimations illustrate the countrywide, economic benefit stemming from gender equality in the workforce. Other potential advances include economic growth by mitigating the impact of a shrinking workforce; higher levels of school enrollment for girls; greater productivity of female-owned companies; and better use of the talent pool (IMF, p. 4-5). Thus, fostering economic opportunity does not simply advance the lives of women, as the improved lives of women will then advance society as a whole- a virtuous cycle we must activate.