The Washington Post has a great article today that explores the reasons why empowering women eliminates the cycle of poverty, particularly in post-conflict Rwanda. It’s hard to imagine the lives Rwandan women have lead, hard to relate to a circumstance where you have no rights, no standing, and no physical power to protect yourself. So why now, with just the slightest assistance, are these amazing women beating out their male counterparts in business? Easy – they’re women.
Women Must Master Technique
When I learned to windsurf, instructors told me women always learned faster than men. Because we cannot rely on our physical strength alone, we are better at mastering technique. Turns out the same may be true in business:
As both female and male survivors sought to rebuild coffee plantations with financial and technical assistance from international organizations, Maraba’s women, most trying their hands at the business of farming for the first time, were by far the faster students. They showed more willingness than men, officials here said, to embrace new techniques aimed at improving quality and profit
The ability to innovate is what’s put Rwandan women ahead of their brothers and fathers in business.
Women Must Feed Children
Women more than men invest profits in the family, renovate homes, improve nutrition, increase savings rates and spend on children’s education, officials here said.
Once you’ve borne a child, it’s instinct to do whatever it takes to keep that child alive. This includes providing food, shelter and creating a safety net for the future. Building families in turn builds up a society, which creates more opportunity and eventually increased prosperity. Because women naturally do these activities, giving them legal rights to own property and compete with men in business builds up the community.
Women Must Persevere
Women have got to stick it out. There is no alternative for our survival and remember, it’s all business. Women must transcend unthinkable realities.
She watched as her husband was killed by bullets, her infant son and 2-year-old daughter hacked to death by blades. She survived by pretending to be dead.
"After two days I woke up," Nyirabaganwa, 39, said. "Birds were eating my dead children. This was too much for me. I wanted to be killed . . . I felt as if I was dead, too. I did not want to go on."