Here are the top 3 "Great Things" about the women I know:
#1: Lung capacity:
My father says that men are not able to get "a word in edge-wise" around a chatty group of women (is that redundant - chatty and women?) because while a man is taking in a breathe between sentences (not even a very deep breathe, he claims), we are able to spew about 100 words - completely changing the subject 3 times before he can get out his first few opening paragraphs.
He attributes this to the greater "lung capacity" of women and conservative use of air - with our high pitched voices as a key asset.
I'm not sure about that - but whenever my father pauses - however momentarily - we usually cover an entire day's worth of riveting activities, a complete dissertation on the benefits of children who like hummus, and few mindless details on Very Annoying Things (aka the lady at the pumpkin patch who said in passing that Emme should stick in her tongue because “a bird could poop on it.” What?).
All that to say, lung capacity has long been underrated.
#2 Matchy Matchy
My husband is actually a pretty sharp dresser (when he wants to be). He can quite successfully mix and match a cornucopia of shoes, belts, jackets, shirts, ties – with little to no female consultation or subsequent color or texture infractions. He’s not even afraid to carry around a “man purse” (not sure how this relates – accept it goes to prove that he has some skills in the closet akin to women).
What is a complete enigma to me – is how he adamantly purports that he is in no way capable of matching our daughter’s clothes together – EVER. Jensen’s closet is a vast an array of pink – you can pretty much just “grab something.” Unfortunately for the unsuspecting masses, his “children’s clothing matching phobia” is well warranted.
When I am too rushed to “please lay out an outfit for Jensen” – the results are disastrous. I regrettably assume he’ll match some pink pants to any of the seemingly obvious array of pink compatible shirts.
Not so much.
When left to his own devices, Jensen usually looks like she dressed herself - in the dark - on laundry day - with a serious mission to impersonate a box of legos.
#3 Our complete disinterest in video games (there's way too much to get done in any given day), shoot 'em up movies (where are the cute outfits?) and Fantasy Football (how exactly does that work again and why is that fun?), and Taco Bell.
Need I say more? The benefits speak for themselves.
What's so great about women in the US?
As many of you know, around 5 years ago the company I worked for pioneered a new approach in the home building industry - called Woman-centric Matters.
The idea is that it just makes good business sense to tailor your business to women - from marketing, sales techniques and product offerings - because women make (or directly influence) over 90% of home-related buying decisions (check out http://www.womancentricmatters.com/ or http://www.innovateher.com/ for details). We even researched and developed ideas on how to make your web site woman-centric (http://www.quantabasics.com/).
I think most women (and their husbands) already know this.
What's so great about women everywhere?
So...when I attended Sheryl WuDunn's talk last week (former Times correspondent who co-wrote “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"), I realized it's not just women in the US - but women all over the world that hold the key to industry and economics in the palm of their hands.
Her ideas are referenced in this is a great article in The New York Times:
Here are the highlights from the Times article...
- 39,000 baby girls die annually in China because parents don't give them the same medical care and attention that boys received — and that was just in the first year of life.
- In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately once every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry.
- There are 107 million females are missing from the globe today (more than all the men killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century or slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century). Women live longer than men, and so there are more females than males in much of the world. Yet in places where girls have a deeply unequal status, they vanish. China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population (and an even greater disproportion among newborns), and India has 108. The implication of the sex ratios is that about 107 million females are missing from the globe today.
- Girls in India from 1 to 5 years of age are 50 percent more likely to die than boys their age (parents don't give them the same health care and food as boys). In addition, ultrasound machines have allowed a pregnant woman to find out the sex of her fetus — and then get an abortion if it is female.
- 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, including sexual servitude. Girls and women are locked in brothels and beaten if they resist, fed just enough to be kept alive and often sedated with drugs — to pacify them and often to cultivate addiction.
- Another huge burden for women in poor countries is maternal mortality, with one woman dying in childbirth around the world every minute. In the United States infant mortality is 1 in 4,800 - in Niger, a woman stands a 1 in 7 chance of dying in childbirth at some point in her life.
With all that's bad...what's so great about being a Woman?
The New York Times says...
There’s a growing recognition among everyone...that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.
WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks?
One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men.
Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week.
If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries.
A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.
Economist Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says.
Aid has often been most effective when aimed at women and girls; when policy wonks do the math, they often find that these investments have a net economic return. Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck.
Yet another reason to educate and empower women is that greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force.
How does it work?
In general, aid appears to work best when it is focused on health, education and microfinance.
Here is an example of one micro-finance model referenced in the article:
Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25.
The women guarantee one another’s debts and meet every two weeks to make payments and discuss a social issue, like family planning or schooling for girls. A Pakistani woman is often forbidden to leave the house without her husband’s permission, but husbands tolerate these meetings because the women return with cash and investment ideas.
So one more time - what's so great about women?
We rock! Isn't the better questions - what's NOT so great?
When the power is in our favor...people are less poor, less violent, less miserable. How great is that?
I think it's pretty cool to sport some estrogen, and I can't wait to be involved with micro-financing in South Africa!
Footnote: The information in this blog was taken directly from The New York Times article "The Women's Crusade" - please visit this link for the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/magazine/23Women-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=5&ref=magazine#