First Good Reason: Reducing Poverty and Hostility
To illustrate the potential for change by empowering women, I show the text of an email I got about two years ago from a woman working for equality in the coffee industry within DR Congo:
I am involved in activities against women discrimination and support women economic empowerment since I was very young, in 1999. Thus, we found that women who grow coffee with their husbands do not have access to income generate after harvest. The coffee harvest is an occasion for men to drink alcohol and to marry several women as they have money. And during this time, women are beaten and driven from their homes with their children without anything. Apart from that, during periods of fields maintenance, they are often victims of rape by armed militias, the military but also unpatriotic persons. This constitutes a serious violation of the dignity of women and discrimination by their men and society as a whole.
You can see here that the conditions of conflict and the vulnerability of the women feeds the vicious cycle. The women are under constant sexual pressure and have no way to push back. The fertility thus continues to rise. The children can’t be cared for. And so on. If you could empower the women, especially to harvest the coffee and get the income from it, the children could be fed and cared for. But in order to make any of this happen, the women first have to have sexual sovereignty. This is why women’s economic empowerment can’t be achieved without confronting the violence. Some people have a hard time seeing that.
The inference is that if you can help these women get rights over their bodies and control over some money, everything will calm down. Lots of statistics show that if women have money, they will spend it first to care for their children and next to build communities. And their fertility will drop if they have access to birth control and the right to say no. So the scenario is a gradual reduction in fertility, conflict, poverty, and disease.
All the “Three Good Reasons” posts can also be accessed here, along with the introduction: