Women hold the key to a future free of extreme poverty

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Flynn Coleman is one of this year’s winners for Concern Worldwide’s annual creative writing competition. The following is an excerpt based on her award-winning essay, which urges President Obama to support the Millennium Development Goals for the sake of gender equality.

What if just one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — achieving significant progress toward gender equality by 2015 — met its target, and in the process ensured that other MDGs would be realized as well?

In the developing world, women are gatekeepers and influencers in their villages. They have deep knowledge of local eco-systems and are the primary water gatherers, cooks, domestic organizers and healing agents for their families. When a mother is given a malaria bed net or attends a course on sexual education, she shares the net with her babies and an understanding of HIV and AIDS transmission with her partner and her friends.

Armed with a voice in community discussions, political decisions and leadership roles, women will rise above their poverty and pain. Most importantly, they will bring their children, husbands, brothers, mothers and friends with them. Women will apply the skills they learn in business school back to their hometowns and local communities.

Women will teach their children about sustainable living, ensuring environmental protection for the next generation. They will send their children to school, making sure they are wearing shoes and carrying pencils.

What if I told you that I know who holds the key to a future free from the torture of hunger, the lack of schooling, the isolation of discrimination, the grief of infant death, the confusion of sparse pre-natal care, the agony of disease, the devastation of environmental degradation and the pain of systemic injustice in the developing world?

What if I told you, that it was your daughter?

– Flynn Coleman, legal advocate for human, animal and environmental rights

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