The Best and Worst Places for Women

Newsweek released a story in its most recent issue with ratings of the best and worst places in the world to be a woman.  #1?  Iceland.  #2,3,4:  Sweden, Canada, and Denmark.  Ratings were based on job equity, access to political office and rights, quality of education, policies affecting women, and women's health statistics.  The United States came in 8th, strong in education and job equity, but low in policies regarding maternal leave, etc.

The worst places?  Chad, Yemen, D.R. Congo, and Afghanistan.  Rape, domestic violence, and an inability to own property are legal.  Women's democratic rights and personal safety are severely at risk in these countries, with little or no political access, voting rights, or job equity.  As one reporter covering the results put it, things that we take for granted as human rights in most Western countries are not givens in these places.  In some of these places, to be a woman truly means to be a second-class citizen.

So what are some ways that we, as citizens of the world, can affect the livelihood of women around the world?  Here are a few organizations who work to advocate for women's rights and health initiatives around the world:

Kiva is an organization which facilitates micro loans from people around the world to people in developing countries who write proposals requesting specific funds for starting up their businesses.  Detailed profiles are provided, and updates are sent via email to inform the lender about how the project is going.  Money is repaid by the borrower and put back in to your account, allowing you to recycle the repaid money to further loans.  For just $25, you can begin to loan and provide support to a woman in another country.  This is one of my favorite organizations, and with a 98.86% repayment rate, it has quite an incredible model!  For more, check it out here.

MCC sends workers to serve in countries around the world, with a number of initiatives regarding healthcare, education, engineering, social services, and ministry.  Their New Life Project provides education and literacy skills to women in Bangladesh who formerly were forced into the sex-trafficking trade.  For a $25 donation, you can buy literacy curriculum and materials for a woman for a whole year, enabling someone to read for the first time!  For $288, you can sponsor a woman to go through the whole program.  For more information about this project, please check it out here.

EMM is an organization based in the U.S. which sends workers all around the world.  One location in Ethiopia is the Meserete Kristos College, which allows both men and women to receive higher education and seminary training, allowing them to have a brighter future.  To learn more about this incredible opportunity, look here.

In the poorest countries, often basic rights like healthcare and education are unable to be provided by the national government due to a lack of resources.  Unfortunately, decades of aid has led to insurmountable debts for these places.  Write your local representative or congressperson to ask them to support debt forgiveness for the poorest countries, allowing them to get a new start and provide for their own people.  To learn more, read here.

And finally, to see more about the Newsweek report on women's rights around the world in a short video, watch here.

I am blind to so many injustices that happen around the world, but I don't want this to be one of them.  I encourage you to learn more to support women (and men) around the developing world to gain access to basic human rights.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

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