Written by Tabby Biddle
I have always felt deep in my bones that peace in our world is possible. I have been doubted, challenged, laughed at and ridiculed for this belief.
There will always be wars, it’s human nature. I have heard this comment over and over through the years – most often from men. I have asked myself more often than not: “Is it really our nature to disregard and disrespect human life?”
I don’t believe it is.
History shows us that wars have been fought over religion, land, natural resources, and differing belief systems. Basically, a win/lose mindset that seems to stem from a fear-based, scarcity mentality. “If they have this, we won’t have this.” ‘If they win, we will lose.”
I wonder if today it is possible for us to shift our global attitude to a win/win?
I think it is.
In order to rise to leadership positions, women used to think that they needed to emulate men. They used to think that they needed to deny their feminine nature in order to make it in a “man’s world.” Today, thank goodness, this old way of seeing things is changing.
This past weekend The New York Times dedicated its Magazine to look at how the liberation of women could help solve many of the world’s problems, including poverty, child mortality, and terrorism.
“In many parts of the world, women are routinely beaten, raped or sold into prostitution. They are denied access to medical care, education and economic and political power. Changing that could change everything.” – New York Times Magazine
One major way women are being liberated is through the assistance of microfinance organizations. These organizations lend tiny amounts of money to poor women around the world to help them start businesses.
Once such organization is Kashf Foundation in Pakistan. Saima Muhammad, a Pakistani woman frequently beaten by her husband and brother-in-law and a mother of three daughters, took out a $65 loan from Kashf. She used the money to buy beads and cloth, which she transformed into embroidery that she then sold to merchants. She used the profits to buy more beads and cloth, and soon was running an embroidery business and earning a solid income. When merchants requested more embroidery than Saima could produce, she hired neighbors. Eventually she had 30 families working for her – providing income and opportunity for them, and is now planning on sending all three of her daughters to high school and maybe even college. The beatings by her husband have also been reduced.
The question has been asked — why do microfinance organizations usually focus their assistance on women?
“One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also unwise spending by the poor – especially by men. Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just dies 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.” – Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
The point here is that when a woman is offered the possibility of running a business and making money, the income goes back into the well-being of the family and the community.
“Seventy percent of people living in poverty around the world are women and children. If women have a roof over their heads and a home free of violence, and good and affordable health care, then so do children … Women are the conduits through which change is made,” says Christine Grumm, president and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.
So how does this all fit into my peace plan?
As more and more women and girls are given opportunity and respect — as opposed to being killed for being born a daughter (China and India), burned for not providing a large enough dowry (India), raped (everywhere), trafficked (Asia), and genitally mutilated (Africa), there is real possibility for bringing balance back to our world.
Although I would agree that humans are competitive by nature, I do not believe that we will always have to live with war. A new attention and respect for girls and women around the world will wake up what I believe is our ultimate human nature … that’s love.
Tabby Biddle is a writer and editor specializing in helping women entrepreneurs and emerging authors get their message out. Additionally she is the founder of Lotus Blossom Style, a yoga lifestyle company created to support women in their personal transformation. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.