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Teach a Woman to Fish

Friday, June 20, 2014

Women from a cooperative in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso prepare butter for use in cosmetics exporter to Europe and the United States. (ISSOUF SANOGO/Getty)

Ritu Sharma, co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide and the author of Teach a Woman to Fish: Overcoming Poverty Around the Globe, talks about the lives of women in the developing world and the structural impediments to their advancement.

Guests:

Ritu Sharma

Comments [6]

Kevin P.

It looks like this segment is missing an enclosure URL in the podcast feed. This means that podcast subscribers won't get the audio file.

Jun. 20 2014 02:19 PM
afitz from Brooklyn, NY

I'm glad someone like Ritu is *finally* discussing the complexities and poor incentives behind the practice of micro-lending. I was a Peace Corps volunteer working in Nicaragua for two years, and much to my dismay, the organization I was first paired with was essentially building systems to keep women in poverty rather than helping them out of it. Each of the loan officers had quotas of money they needed to lend and repayment numbers to hit as well. So, they were regularly going out to "promote" (i.e. cajole) women into taking loans and, more often than not signing them up without the women understanding the payment terms. Then, when they (not surprisingly) did not pay them back, they took property (often tv's or even refrigerators) as collateral. And, they hid all the collateral from the international donors when they came to visit. It was despicable -- and they were not alone in these practices. Often women would go to another loan organization in town to pay back their loan to another organization just so they could get their collateral returned.

I know there are good organizations out there, but micro-lending is NOT the panacea that the economic development community has made it out to be.

Jun. 20 2014 11:45 AM

Sorry for the double post. Don't know how that happened.

Jun. 20 2014 11:37 AM

Also - in Tanzania they coupled gardening programs with developing recipes to use varieties of sweet potato that were previously not used - those rich in beta carotene. Women then make sweet potato pancakes to sell in the market as "fast food".

Jun. 20 2014 11:36 AM

Brian, Helen Keller International did work in Bangladesh with local NGOs that taught women how to not only grow gardens, but then become a resource for other women to grow gardens. It not only improved their income, it improved their status, and it ALSO measurably improved vitamin A status. The rates of night blindness declined. Where there is night blindness, the childhood mortality rates are about 30% higher because vitamin A is so important to fighting infection. Dr. Alfred Sommor was first vilified and the won the Lasker Prize in medicine for the discovery of the link between the treatment of vitamin A deficiency and reductions in mortality rates among deficient children.

Jun. 20 2014 11:33 AM

Brian, Helen Keller International did work in Bangladesh with local NGOs that taught women how to not only grow gardens, but then become a resource for other women to grow gardens. It not only improved their income, it improved their status, and it ALSO measurably improved vitamin A status. The rates of night blindness declined. Where there is night blindness, the childhood mortality rates are about 30% higher because vitamin A is so important to fighting infection. Dr. Alfred Sommor was first vilified and the won the Lasker Prize in medicine for the discovery of the link between the treatment of vitamin A deficiency and reductions in mortality rates among deficient children.

Jun. 20 2014 11:32 AM

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