Teach a woman to fish

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Ritu and a Burkinabé woman discuss how she sells products at market. Credit: Julie Dixon

Ritu Sharma is the Co-founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide, an organization that advocates for change at the U.S. and global levels so that women and men can share equally in the enjoyment of opportunities, economic prosperity, voice, and freedom from fear and violence. She is also the author of the book,  Teach a Woman to Fish: Overcoming Poverty Around the Globe. 

When I was 8 years old, I wanted to travel the world as a National Geographic photographer. My parents had moved to Canada and then to the United States when I was just a baby. From them, I knew that there was a whole wide world out there filled with exciting people and places.

What 8-year-old-me hadn’t grasped yet was how challenging the world is for so many people. That came later. The more I traveled and learned about life’s realities, the more I realized how different women’s lives are in other places, how interconnected we all really are, and how I could make a difference.

I know not everyone gets to travel like me and meet the nothing-short-of-amazing women that I have. I am so blessed. But we each can still do our part to help one another. I believe that with all my soul.

That’s why I wrote Teach a Woman to Fish: Overcoming Poverty Around the Globe.

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Ritu and a woman from Mujeres Unidas en Acción in Santa María, Honduras. Credit: Women Thrive Worldwide

Some 829 million women worldwide subsist on little more than $1 a day. Think about trying to make it on so little – and then think about trying to raise your children and cover their needs on that same small amount.

The kids may be crying because they’re hungry and there is just nothing left for them to eat. Mom’s own belly might be aching because she’s had nothing but ground-up flour mixed with a little warm, dirty water since yesterday morning.

This scenario isn’t far fetched at all for women in places like Burkina Faso and other developing countries.

In just about every country on earth, the odds are stacked against women and girls. But in many developing countries, the odds are stacked higher than the sky.

The reasons vary — certainly, long-standing beliefs about gender and women’s appropriate roles undergird inequality. So do poor educational opportunities, unequal laws, and grotesque violence.

And yet . . . women are breaking free of poverty, inequality, and violence. You can help them do it faster.

If you aren’t sure where to get started, a good place to begin is www.womenthrive.org/teach. For more updates,be sure to follow ONE Girls and Women.