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September 29, 2009

Invest in a Girl and She Will Do the Rest

By Kimberly Munoz at 6:08 PM on | Comments (3)

With all the talk about sustainable development, it is important to look at the people who should make up half the effort. At the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Clinton stated that women produce 50% of the world's food, do 66% of the world's work, earn 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the world's property.

Over the past couple weeks, there's been a lot of buzz over the latest development book Half the Sky. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the book focuses on how investing in women can lift communities out of poverty. The title comes from a Chinese proverb, "Women hold up half the sky" and illustrates how empowering women creates opportunity for communities.

Last year, The Girl Effect illustrated the theory that women are the key to ending poverty in their viral video.  A woman is more likely to spend her money on education, health and improving her family's status. Hopefully, Half the Sky will reach out to an even larger audience to support women around the world by telling the stories of women trapped in oppressive conditions and the few success stories. For example, Sheryl WuDunn, in a TV interview, shared the story of the woman in Pakistan who went from getting beaten by her unemployed husband to receiving a US $65 and started an embroidery business employing thirty families in the village including her husband.

The book goes beyond narrative and encourages readers to participate online. Kristof regularly blogs on the topic and has created the hashtag on Twitter for #HalfTheSkyTuesday to spread the word. Readers can also help finance microloans to women through Kiva.org, Pro Mujer or any number of organizations listed on the Half the Sky Movement page. It's easy to make a difference too. From my dorm room in the United States, I was able to donate money to a female poultry farmer in Tanzania to buy food and treatment for chickens in about fifteen minutes.