“One is not born, but rather becomes, woman.” This is perhaps one of the most quoted lines from Simone de Beauvoir’s work; she is one of the first feminists to claim that gender is a social construct. Since then, the popularization of the “social construction of gender” has mushroomed. Denying that gender is a product of culture can get you branded as “sexist” or “misogynistic.”
Jack Parkos | Laissez_Faire76
For many, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) may seem like the perfect choice for a libertarian like myself. Indeed, they have some good viewpoints with which I agree with. The ACLU heavily opposes the methods of the drug war while supporting free speech and privacy. Furthermore, they take aggressive stances against torture and many other cruel cases of abuse of rights. While I may not agree with the ACLU on everything, I would be able to agree to disagree on some minor issues, however, one issue makes my hesitation towards this organization extreme.
The 2018 midterm elections brought a blue wave to the House of Representatives and many governor’s offices. Along with them, the Democrats brought the first Muslim women into Congress, the first lesbian native, the first openly bisexual congressperson, and the first openly gay governor. Many of the newly elected officials were running on a platform consisting partly or mostly of abortion rights. Abortion is one of the most controversial issues of our time, becoming such with the landmark court case, Roe v Wade in 1973. Ever since there have been efforts within the states to roll back or restrict access to abortion. From laws on clinic hallway width to fetal heartbeat laws to extreme late-term abortions, legislators remain steadfast in the push and pull of this intensely debated issue.
Mae Buck | United States
Many ultra-traditionalist conservatives might have you believe that toxic masculinity is just an excuse for boys who aren’t “boy enough” to exist and for men who aren’t “men enough” to exist. It’s the lack of masculinity that causes erratic violence, right? But, is it the surge of masculinity (and perhaps its friend, testosterone) that catalyzes “good” violence? The same masculinity that gives rise to calculated violence against deserving enemies and makes enemies in the first place?
In a world full of immense suffering, many see it as their job to try to alleviate it. In a number of such instances, governments take it upon themselves to try to solve the crises. However, their actions are not always effective. So, there is still a considerable market for private charities and companies to aid the poorest of the poor. Thus, the microfinance industry came to be.
What is Microfinance?
Microfinance is an economic practice where startups lend small amounts of money to small business owners to help them become more profitable. Though more of the poor are getting bank accounts, there are still many in third world countries without access. Moreover, even some areas with a bank do not allow women to open accounts, as many third world countries have yet to reach gender equality.
This poor reality is an iron chain on social mobility. Without basic access to lending and borrowing, it can be very hard for a poor family to start a small business and begin to increase their standard of living. Despite this, there is still hope for them, as microfinance is beginning to turn the tides.
A Method of Proven Success
SHARE Micro Finance Limited, a company based in India, lends women small amounts of money so that they may further their businesses. Each client receives only one payment equal to $50 to $100 in USD. The money may go towards buying them equipment to transport products. The women may also use it to begin moving their operations online.
So, what have been the results? A staggering 77% of these women have seen income increases. Over a third have risen their incomes enough to no longer be living in poverty. With these results, SHARE has become India’s largest microfinance industry, serving over 200,000 people.
SHARE is not alone in its success. Countless other stories throughout the developing world show similar increases. From Kenya to Colombia to Pakistan, microfinance is accelerating the path of families away from poverty.
A Home-building Industry
In Kenya, 36% of people live below the poverty line. Nairobi alone is home to a quarter of a million people without a roof over their heads. Clearly, there is an urgent need for these people to have more adequate housing. Once again, microfinance may be the clear answer.
Sandra Pietro, global director of operations and financial inclusion at Habitat for Humanity, believes microfinance is a clear way forward to improve housing access. She believes that without it, “It could take up to two generations for people to build their home incrementally”. In areas where life expectancy is low, this means they will never reap the benefit of decades of hard work.
With microfinance, women in particular are able to access loans to build their homes. With loans as little as $50 USD, these women are able to increase their quality of life. After giving three guarantors, they can obtain the deed to their new property.
This is only the first step to a long process, but without the spark, no fire is possible. Current banks rarely serve the poor, and thus, they need another option. Microfinance, for a growing number of poor men and women, is that option.
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