The following is a guest post from Women’s Opportunity Network Member, Susan Gillette:
I have just finished reading “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. It’s a difficult but inspiring read about the oppression of women in the developing world – but also offers concrete proof that investing in women and girls fuels economic growth and improves the quality of women’s lives.
The book contains many exciting stories about local women who have overcome abuse and oppression and have found ways to change their own lives and the lives of women and girls in their communities. It sites two things that are helping impoverished women rise above their dismal circumstances – education and microfinance. As you know, 85% of Opportunity’s microfinance clients are women. Now, through our Banking on Education initiative, we are funding local private schools in sub-Saharan Africa to make education both more widely available and affordable to urban and rural children, especially girls, living in poverty. We’re also developing new products such as school fee loans and school fee savings accounts that will help more families afford to send their children to school.
This book just may inspire all of us to commit even further to Opportunity’s work, which is providing the microfinance services – loans, savings, insurance and training – that women and girls need to lift themselves out of poverty.