I’ve been wanting to do more here about strong women. Apparently Sheryl WuDunn’s is also very interested in highlighting the accomplishments of strong women. Ms. WuDunn has a good bit more focus and discipline than I do however. She has written a book “Half the Sky” that investigates the oppression of women globally. Her stories can be shocking. They can also be exhilarating. Her emphatic conclusion? Only when women in developing countries have equal access to education and economic opportunity will we be using all our human resources and will there be any hope for social and economic justice and human rights.
So, please by all means give her book a read.
If you need a bit more motivation, so hear her TED Talk, where you can hear her tell stories like this one:
So, let’s start off in China. This photo was taken two weeks ago. Actually, one indication is that little boy on my husband’s shoulders has just graduated from high school. (Laughter) But this is Tiananmen Square. Many of you have been there. It’s not the real China. Let me take you to the real China. This is in the Dabian Mountains in the remote part of Hubei province in central China. Dai Manju is 13 years old at the time the story starts. She lives with her parents, her two brothers and her great-aunt. They have a hut that has no electricity, no running water, no wristwatch, no bicycle. And they share this great splendor with a very large pig. Dai Manju was in sixth grade when her parents said, “We’re going to pull you out of school because the 13-dollar school fees are too much for us. You’re going to be spending the rest of your life in the rice paddies. Why would we waste this money on you?” This is what happens to girls in remote areas.
Turns out that Dai Manju was the best pupil in her grade. She still made the two-hour trek to the schoolhouse and tried to catch every little bit of information that seeped out of the doors. We wrote about her in The New York Times. We got a flood of donations — mostly 13-dollar checks because New York Times readers are very generous in tiny amounts (Laughter) but then, we got a money transfer for $10,000 — really nice guy. We turned the money over to that man there, the principal of the school. He was delighted. He thought, “Oh, I can renovate the school. I can give scholarships to all the girls, you know, if they work hard and stay in school. So Dai Manju basically finished out middle school. She went to high school. She went to vocational school for accounting. She scouted for jobs down in Guangdong province in the south. She found a job, she scouted for jobs for her classmates and her friends. She sent money back to her family. They built a new house, this time with running water, electricity, a bicycle, no pig.