I am reading the book ‘Half the Sky’ right now, a powerful and deeply affecting book about the plight of women and girls in the developing world by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book addresses four major threats to being female in the developing world; high maternal mortality, human trafficking, which can be understood in most cases as slavery; sexual violence; and mundane daily discrimination against girls and women.
Kristof and WuDunn, a husband and wife team, are loathe to recite the statistics because as all of us with fundraising backgrounds know, statistics tend to numb people’s minds and force them into non-action. Instead they tell story after story of individual heroines and victims both. I urge you to read their book.
I don’t have their discipline so I’ll cite one statistic from ‘Half the Sky,’ which I see as a sort of capstone. Thanks to routinized discrimination, violence and neglect perpetrated against women and girls there are at least 50 million females missing from the world, and maybe closer to 100 million!
As a husband and father of daughters, that sickens me.
How different the developing world is from the United States where it is men and boys who are, thanks to a variety of factors, struggling.
The bottom line for me is that I’m committing myself to help the plight of girls and women in the developing world. If that sounds vague and nonspecific, it's because I’m still figuring out what to do and how I can help.
This much is certain, in too much of the world girls and women are abused, trafficked, mutilated, enslaved, and even murdered for largely cultural reasons. Every bit of this is immoral and wrong. It must not be allowed to continue and I can’t sit idly by while it happens, even if I’m not sure yet what I ought to do.
At the very least, I will use this blog to tell stories and, when and where appropriate, rally support.
All posts on the topic will be headlined under the rubric: "Help the World's Women and Girls."
My first post on the topic is about an intriguing project from two ad agencies that are working in conjunction with the nonprofit called Call + Response to raise awareness about 21st century slavery. When you visit www.slaveryfootprint.org you can get an approximation of the number of people it takes, working in forced labor, to maintain your modern lifestyle.
The online calculator takes you through 11 screens and asks questions about you, your lifestyle and your possessions. You can either go through the questions with certain predetermined presets or you can get very specific and name, for instance, the number of suits and leather shoes that you own.
My slavery footprint was 65, which was very unsettling.
www.slaveryfootprint.org is especially well-designed and the methodology seems rigorous, if perhaps not entirely bullet-proof.
It’s available as an app, on Facebook and you can certainly Tweet it out, as I will.
Check it out and see where you stand.
Labels: Half the Sky, Help the World's Women Girls, Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn, slaveryfootprint.org