The World Bank has begun a campaign on behalf of women that includes banners on their building in Washington, D. C., as well as TV spots that run in New York taxis and a slew of Youtube videos like the one below. The campaign explores a variety of issues
Photos courtesy of Mary Johnstone-Louis
from religion to education to entrepreneurship. It has remarkable scope. I particularly like a video from Papua New Guinea, in which the woman very straightforwardly says that the men won’t give women any money, so women need to earn it themselves. That pretty much says it all right there. She goes on to talk about how women need to go to school so they can support themselves. This is the most politically acceptable next step, but other issues, like the right to inherit or make contracts are probably actually more important. I was dismayed that a video about shell money in the Solomon Islands talked about the entrepreneurial opportunities that might accrue from the shells women collected and refined—but never addressed the issue of “bride price” with which the video opened. As long as fathers can “liquidate” their daughters as assets, girls will have a hard time staying in school past puberty. This is something we are seeing in our new sanitary pad work in Uganda.