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Bennett Henson

I thought that both of these readings on Women Empowerment were pretty interesting in that they analyze the symbiotic relationship between women empowerment and economic development. As Esther Duflo states, neither one can in and of itself bring about monumental change, and empowering women can even have some negative effects such as the disruption that comes about from redistribution, but empowering women has been shown to increase childhood nutrition which is a vital ingredient to development.
The major hurtle that underdeveloped societies face is overcoming the cultural norms that are historically repressive to women. In Nicaragua, when women earn as much as their husbands they are still less empowered due to these cultural beliefs and practices. It's easy to say that education is the key to overcoming these repressive patterns, but empowering women in some cases leads to decreased education for some children.
A successful strategy in India, which resulted in increased education for boys and girls, occurred when women were given equal employment opportunities during the technological boom of the 1990s. In fact, this led to lower-caste girls receiving English education at higher rate than boys. Although this disproportional rate of increase in education may have some repercussions in the future, it seems, with the evidence presented in these two studies, an effective way of speeding up development.

Austin Pierce

As Bennett, Esther Duflo, and many other people have pointed out, there is substantial endogeneity between achieving equal rights for women and economic development. This is a case when I would say the best answer is just to embrace the endogeneity. However, many issues end up sticking to both gender equality and economic development.

I definitely think one of the most interesting points is the role of culture and how sometimes it even inhibits males. For example, in Maharashtra, boys are culturally expected to take Marathi-language jobs due to the caste relations (even though the caste system is supposedly "dead"), but girls do not have this cultural expectation. Granted, there are other expectations that bind the girls elsewhere. This is conveyed in the film the Namesake when a talented, female artist named Moushumi complains about being expected to be "a nice Bengali girl who makes somosas every Thursday."
What is interesting is that Moushumi, and a fair portion of her family, lives in the Western World (the USA and France largely), but these cultural expectations still doggedly follow her. This would imply that some of these cultural expectations can't be as easily dealt with through government institutions as some might expect (an important point when trying to affect policy on these issues: sometimes some degree of moral suasion is necessary for the more "traditional" and "rational" policies to take grip and have anywhere near their intended effect).

Samantha Smith

Duflo warns us earlier in the article and then concludes "Women Empowerment & Economic Development" with a pessimistic view on the future of gender equality. Duflo acknowledges that neither development nor women's empowerment is the answer to both problems/solutions
in the article. Duflo explains the bidirectional relationship between women's empowerment and development, but as I mentioned she knows that neither one can really solve the other. To be honest, I am not very surprised by this conclusion. To me, it is obvious that, unfortunately, the world is not ready for gender equality nor is the world ready to go out of its way to aid in the development in Lower Income Countries (LIC). I say this because while it is appalling how unequal women are in certain countries and cultures, I do no think that the Higher Income Countries (HIC) always provide the best examples of gender equality. I am not saying that I am not thankful to be born in the US where I am afforded many of the same opportunities as my male peers, but I am constantly aware of inequalities. I see this in business and the wage gap between men and women and I also see this in politics- why have we not had a women president if men and women are considered equal? It was not only in the conclusion that I was reminded of gender inequality in the United States. In section 2.6 (“Will Economic Development Be Enough?”), Duflo highlights sex-selected abortions and mentions that certain cultures in the US and Canada participate in this. What struck me the most was the example of math being a “boy-thing” and that females often believe that males are better than them in math. I am not sure when in my life I gained this opinion, but I guess I kind of believe that- maybe not consciously, but that thought is in the back of my mind. There is also the stigma that men are better leaders than women, which I also see in various aspects of life in the US (business world/politics). I am not saying that HIC are responsible to set a perfect example of development and equality for the world, but maybe the equality advances aren’t enough in the HIC. LIC are obviously faced with more constraints and harder choices to make in the investment in the youth. The gender inequality that we see existing throughout the world obviously has less to do with the opinion that men being the “greater sex” and more to do with the economic constraints that billions are faced with everyday- this relates to the article from last week on the economic lives of the poor. ​

Brian Lawler

So I just posted a comment, but it is not appearing and I do not want to double post. But if it is not appearing then I wan to get the gist of my comment on the blog.

I was particularly interested in the section about freeing up women's time. In particular, I would have asked why access to clean water had a much different effect on women's use of time than access to electricity did despite both of them being utilities.

I also never thought about how economic development leads to lower fertility rates which frees up women's time. Women then can choose to spend that time in a more effective manner which can then spur more economic development. However, these relationships are never this simple, but they do merit further study as the theory is present and the potential benefits of increasing gender equality are significant.

Jean Turlington

These two articles were an interesting comparison of women, their behaviors, perceptions of women, and several other aspects. Both articles, but especially the article by Gitter and Barham emphasize the impact of what I think of as the maternal instinct. Generally speaking when given the opportunity women take advantage of added resources and spend more to help the health and education of their children. It is more obvious the way that women allocate more money to health and nutrition. One of the ways in which this was measured, which Duflo mentions, is by looking at the amount of money spent on milk and other food items in relation to alcohol, cigarettes, and similar products. There still seems to be a little bit of a stigma associated to women getting an education though. Mothers do want their daughters to get education up to a certain point, but after that they still want their daughters at home. I do not think though it just applies to more educated/powerful women though. Cultural norms are definitely still a huge part of the issue, which Austin also pointed out. It is an interesting dichotomy the ways that women care about their children, daughters and sons, but then have certain standards they still feel they need to follow.

Along those lines I think this also speaks to the idea mentioned in Duflo’s piece about the number of missing women in the world. Both articles argue that women do really care about their daughters, which I think is true, but the number of parents who choose not to have daughters in countries all over the world, not just China is a little bit disheartening. Even developed countries can face this issue as Sam mentioned. Women seem to be oppressed overall, and sometimes women do it to each other, or mothers do it to daughters by not giving them education or proper healthcare/ nutrition. I think empowering women and economic development are both very important, but one should not come without the other. Even in the United States a highly developed country, women are sometimes oppressed and should instead be empowered. There is definitely room for growth all over the world.

Ferrell Carter

In response to Jean’s comment about maternal instinct, I can’t help but ask if the idea itself is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy for women. Not to discredit the notion itself; I think that maternal instinct is very much a real thing and that both mothers and fathers bring unique values to raising children. However, the idea that women are supposed to spend more time and energy on raising children as a result of said “instinct” only perpetuates the rate at which we see women staying at home, not contributing to the workplace, and therefore not gaining equal participation in society. This seems pessimistic, but it reminded me of the section in Duflo’s essay in which girls and boys took the same math test, and only after the girls were told that there should be no differences in grades between the boys and the girls did the girls achieve comparable scores to the boys. Perhaps putting less emphasis on the role of maternal instinct and more emphasis on the role of women as powerful conduits to development, less gender inequality would persist.

We can see women taking an active role in development through the RPS experiment presented by Gitter and Barham. Since women with more power (education relative to males) tend to invest more in the education of their children, this results in the increase of human capital in their children. While the findings on food expenditures weren’t as directly correlated, this evidence still speaks to the fact that women can and do act as important factors to development, just as Duflo writes of in her essay.

Alexandra Butler

To add to the comments about maternal instinct above, I find Ferrell’s perspective very interesting. There does seem to be a preexisting notion that women should always put children first and succumb to their maternal instinct. Ferrell brings up a good point, however, that this same expectation may be limiting women. These concerns are brought up in these articles, specifically Dufflo’s comments on the expectations of women in developing countries. She states that in West Bengal, 86% of parents wanted their daughters to be a housewife. What is most concerning, however, is that girls in these developing countries also have low aspirations for themselves. It seems that societies continue to restrict women to motherly roles. I think it is interesting that Ferrell suggests changing this social norm in order to alleviate the gender divide. Perhaps the expectation that women always prefer to spend money on children and education is too conventional and based on social expectations rather than fact. I was at first surprised by the empirical findings of Gitter and Barham showing that households with powerful women (power here being measured by years of education), spent less money from transfers on student enrollment for children than other commodities, like food. Duflo reports similar findings, stating that women in Rajasthan were more concerned about clean drinking water than education. While I first found this surprising, maybe it should be given a second look. Do we just assume that women should be more concerned with children’s education because of the “maternal instinct” we expect them to have? This would be an interesting question for discussion.

Another other area of interest is the “quiet revolution” Duflo mentions. I found it very surprising that girls in lower castes in Mumbai were more likely to be educated in English than boys. This is because boys rely on the caste system and labor markets more than girls. I found Duflo’s mention of this as a “quiet revolution” to be very intriguing. It seems that in Mumbai, girls are, possibly unknowingly, becoming equipped with the skills to enter a more global marketplace. They may have an advantage over men without even realizing it. What must be determined in the future, though, is if and how they will use these skills.

Juan Cruz Mayol

Both articles touch various points about women empowerment and economic development, by arguing if these have to do with each other, what would be the positive and negative effects, opportunities, rights, etc. But, there was one part in Duflo's article that called my attention, despite its small significance in the whole paper; the part that describes the lack of cooperation between men and women, under the section "...on the Farm:Women and Property Rights". The article mentions that this just happens in Africa, but it still interesting the lack of communication or cooperation between members of the same family, resulting in lower productivity and output for the family unit. And when it comes to the men helping out women because of more physical strength, it does not happen because men might take the land from women due to poor property rights.
I thought this part of the article was interesting not only for the specific situation, but for how this behavior could apply to other contexts. How men are more selfish than women, as with the example of women spending more on health and education of children, or if it weren't for women's rights, they would not be able to vote or choose to work, or have more egalitarian incomes. From these examples, it feels that we are not biologically capable of getting used to the idea of equal rights between men and women, that is why changes are not happening suddenly, and brings up the question whether they will ever happen, or the changes towards a more egalitarian state between sexes will stop.

Wilson Hallett

The way that the paper is structured is intriguing as it represents the two basic arguments surrounding development and gender inequality. However, it becomes fairly certain early that neither version in its absolute form may be as effective as a hybrid approach of both. Instead of pushing strictly development or strictly gender equality, putting emphasis on both sides will inevitably raise development and lower inequality, as Duflo concludes at the end of her paper.
A few points that resonated or struck me, personally surrounded the regressive tendencies of certain societies, specifically India, where the advancement of health technologies leads to an increase in sexual discrimination against girls. Being able to identify the sex of a child before birth has led to sex selection practices by families in India. Advertisements for said sex selection practices are crude and appalling, as described in the article. Beyond the disgust of the advertisements, the illumination of some technological practices (as a result of advances in development) increasing gender inequality was a surprise to me, but makes complete sense. This point flows into the rest of Duflo’s article about strictly improving equality for women over advances in development.
Mentioned briefly by Brian above, the part of the article that I could relate to the most was about the issue of time in the lives of women. While my concept of structuring the time in my day for my necessary actions is in no way comparable to the decisions of women in poverty, the underlying principle is the same: if I have more free time in a day outside of what is necessitated by class and other obligations, I can do what I want. Now, while what I want may be for personal enjoyment or relaxation, if women in impoverished circumstances had more time on their hands, it leads to improved lifestyles for the women and families. The way that women can gain more time is laid out in a few studies by Duflo in the article, but this is an area that I would be interested in learning more about.
The final point I want to make is based on my brief studies in indigenous Latin American cultures. The Incans and preceding indigenous groups from the Peruvian area believed in systems of two, two gods, two agrarian systems, and two divides of responsibilities in the house. The balance is what was sought in their culture, and balance takes at least two. Women were often in charge of more responsibilities outside of the house, in the economy and trading than men. My long-winded point is that even though these individuals may technically have fallen below a poverty line had it been established then, that their gender equality was a part of their cultural beliefs, something that could be analyzed in more cultures in the modern world.

HeeJu Jang

One of the points that really interested me in Duflo's paper was her support for the political quota system. She argues that since many women (both in developing AND developed nations) are dissuaded (directly or psychologically) from pursuing career in political realm, mechanisms like gender quota can help women participate in social decision making process and thus better reflect their interests and needs. However, I wonder if people in today's developed (and albeit more equalized) countries will be in favor of her suggestion. I attended W&L Women's Leadership Summit last year. One of points for discussion on our agenda was how to bring more women leaders to politics. Along with professor Bell (who teaches philosophy of feminism occasionally), I suggested that US government could adopt gender quota like several other countries do. However, I was taken aback by the prevailing opposition from the female students. They argued that such a system would not be fair for the male leaders who would want to compete on equal basis and women should try to win elections on their own, not through reservation. On the other hand, I believe that quota actually creates a fair ground for female and male leaders to work together and better represent a balanced interests of all citizens. In today's world, there are too few female leaders who can collectively and effectively represent women's interests. Reserving number of seats in government for female leaders guarantees that their voice be heard in decision making process. As Duflo points out in her paper, these female leaders who won the position through quota actually helped make changes that were more conducive to development (i.e. sanitary drinking water) than those male leaders have been making. Even in South Korea, there is a government department called "ministry of women and families" that is composed only of female leaders and designed to promote welfare of women and their families. So quota system is not an entirely noble or unusual political concept around the world, both in LDCs and advanced countries. However, it seems that many women in the US look down upon the quota system and view it as a way to "cheat the system". This mind set perhaps might be hindering US from moving onto the next level of gender equality.

HeeJu Jang

Another point I want to note separately is Duflo's brief opinion on China's Only Child policy. Although the policy itself was created in the environment that prefers boys, it has actually brought an unexpected result of creating gender equality in modern China. Because many people can either have only one son or one daughter, families nowadays tend to cherish their only child regardless of the gender. Furthermore, in case some people do not know, Chinese government has partially revoked the Only Child policy in that people born in the year of 1992 and after can have more than one child when they get married (conditional that they themselves were only child).

Andrew Winter

Like most everyone before me, I am pretty surprised to see how preferable boys are to girls in these low income countries. Duflo mentions how women's empowerment is believed to occur naturally as a nation develops. Here it seems like the low income countries showed definitive signs of at least some development, but women are still mistreated in households and communities. I've always heard of how low income families in rural areas would want sons over daughters so that the son can start providing for the family as soon as he is old enough to work, but I had no idea how extensive this still was today. What is interesting to me is that equality in education between girls and boys has grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Both boys and girls are far more likely to graduate from secondary schools which would indicate that they should be able to acquire similar jobs in the labor force and contribute to the economy. The statistic that shocked me was from New Delhi where girls are more than twice as likely to die from diarrhea because parents are less likely to spend money on a daughter's illness as opposed to a son's. (Duflo) It's hard for me to imagine a family with two equally sick children where the parents have to make a decision on who to treat. I feel like that shows how far these countries still have to go in achieving a healthy standard of living before they can get at the heart of gender equality.

C Wood

One aspect of the article that I found myself continuously thinking about relates to HeeJu's belief that a female " quota actually creates a fair ground for female and male leaders to work together and better represent a balanced interests of all citizens". Duflo mentions the Beaman et al. study that used India's reservation policy for 1/3 of villages to elect a woman to head of council. The findings in implicit association tasks for men found that all of the bias against women (as well as women and leadership) is erased. Additionally the fact that people vote more for women after their seats are no longer reserved is highly encouraging to quota polices in politics.

The paper continues to talk about the longer term effects of these policies such as the progress toward closing the gap in aspirations for teenage boys and girls 10 years after implementation. Clearly Heeju ran into others' beliefs that there should be equal opportunity for men and women to be elected to positions of power; however, past stereotypes and traditional views of women make this less possible for women. Heeju's points as well as Duflo's section 3.3 page 1071 point to a promising direction of the possibility of implementing more positions allow women to more effectively break typical gender roles and influence policy.

Chandler Moody

One thing I wanted to add that connects the paper from last week to this week’s Duflo paper is recent research on how stress affects men and women differently. Last week, we discussed that while the absolute poor do not necessarily feel unhappiness, they acutely feel stress. The stress of being poor in a developing country can cause individuals to make decisions that we may not consider economically rational. Connecting the aspect of stress with some of the ideas presented in the Duflo paper on women’s empowerment is a study done recently to examine how stress affects men and women differently. What I found really interesting is that the study found that stress increases empathy in women, while stress decreases empathy in men. Stressed males become more self-centered, yet for women the exact opposite is true. In this study, women under stress became prosocial. Without trying not to apply causation in a case of correlation, I think it is at least worth considering if this heightened empathy under stress could be an explanation for why women in poverty make choices that positively affect family outcomes. If women are wired to become more empathetic under stress, this could be one explanation for why women in poverty were better at controlling family resources (income) than men. On page 1067 it says, “Evidence suggests that, compared to income or assets in the hands of men, income or assets in the hands of women is associated with larger improvements in child health, and larger expenditure share of household nutrients, health, and housing.” This is just one example given when arguing that women’s empowerment will stimulate economic development. Based on the recent study on the different coping mechanisms of men and women when it comes to stress, it would support this idea that giving women in absolute poverty more decision-making power in the family may lead to development. While men in poverty may feel stressed and become self-centered, as the study suggests, women in poverty may feel stressed and empathize with others in her family, thus making choices that benefit the most people.

Austin Hay

In section 3.1 of this article they first discuss the ways this data can be skewed. Whenever a study dealing with some sort of social issue that’s hard to quantify comes out these types of questions need to be answered and addressed. It’s tempting to look and say that in a family where the woman has employment, better education or receives income of some sort that this creates a more nurturing environment for the children. Clearly, as pointed out in this part of the article, many extraneous factors must be taken into account. One thing I felt like they left out was the question of whether just having an additional income causes these changes, whether or not a woman happened to be earning them. I’d be curious to see a study where one studies the behaviors of a family before a child reaches working age, and then again after. If a child, male or female, begins working and earning a wage for the household, then would we see these same changes in the dynamic of the family’s financial behavior? So many of these aspects of household spending and behavior vary so greatly from family to family, as they discussed, and any study to garner pertinent results would have to be extensive.

Kate LeMasters

2. Chandler raises the interesting point that coping mechanisms of men and women in poverty may differ, so, when analyzing how women and men spend their resources, the distinct ways in which they handle stress may play a role. If men do become more self-centered, then their spending on cigarettes and alcohol may be partially explained, and, if women become more empathetic, then their spending on their children may be partially explained. But, I’m not sure how, in an economic study, we would be able to isolate the effect of how stress specifically effects men and women’s financing decisions. This problem arises both from collinearity and endogeneity; stress is likely related both to the dependent and other independent variables. From a theoretical standpoint, I would be interested to see how women’s empowerment alters both women’s and men’s stress levels. Different types of empowerment may affect stress levels differently, as more secure property rights likely decrease the stress that women have regarding their land but increasing women’s job market opportunities may cause more stress because they are no longer assumed to stay at home but now must navigate the formal job market. Additionally, women’s empowerment may cause men’s stress levels to go down, as there is now another income earner in the family, which then may cause husband’s selfish spending on cigarettes and alcohol to decrease, thus multiplying the effect that women’s empowerment has.
One interesting point that Duflo makes in her paper is the distinction between institutional and behavioral effects. On page 1055, she states that improved access to health services, through health insurance for free medical care for the poor, disproportionately helps girls even if parents do not change their behavior; this is in the first section on how economic development effects empowerment. However, as she states on page 1065, increasing educational opportunities to women has more positive impacts on child health by allowing them to provide better care, which requires that women change their behaviors; this is in the second section about how empowerment effects development. So, one way in which this paper can be interpreted is that economic development (by changing institutions) and women’s empowerment (by changing behaviors) are endogenous, as Austin said earlier. Institutions effect behaviors by creating the environments for change to occur and behaviors effect the institutions in place by the effect they have on a community. As we move forward with this discussion, it is at helpful for me to think in these terms to fully grasp to two sides of the same issue that Duflo is addressing.

Raymond Monasterski

The policymaking in these papers is what strikes me as most interesting, and perhaps most pertinent, to the outcomes for women in developing countries.
While it might seem odd to us, living in a country where we strive for equality, the simple inequities women face not only at a national level, but also in the household are quite striking. The quota system, as HeeJu mentions, is certainly a way to get women in developing countries involved in politics. But, what if these are the same women who dropped out of school and worked in the house their entire lives? Questions could be raised about their adeptness in working in politics. Moreover, stereotypes, perhaps the same stereotypes i mention in my question, constantly surround women in politics in these developing countries, making their jobs perceived as more symbolic than anything else.
Duflo insists policymaking is essentially a zero-sum game; policies to help women, who as research shows are more cognizant of the household and children, are made at the expense of men. But, what if. as I would suspect, men are the ones making the policy decisions in most cases? (It could also be argued that said men are ignorant of the abilities of women if steps are taken to improve their education, income, health, etc.) Then the decisions of policymaking might in fact be one of gender relations, which in countries and cultures where women are already marginalized can be difficult to improve.
The marginalization of women in these developing countries could compare to government corruption we discussed in Tuesday's class in countries like Nigeria, where they are rich from oil but an overall poor country. Until there is sweeping reform, whether its in gender relations or in corruption, AND a governing body that can enforce such reform then such problems will continue. Certainly, these issues cannot be solved overnight.

Callie Northrop

It came as no surprise to me that many sex ratios at birth are skewed, as we had talked about this last week. However, I had always thought about the reasoning behind that was that males were more useful for labor. I have never thought of males and females in regards to a lifetime investment. Duflo writes, “Other than directly affecting the welfare of women (and not men) in a significant way, maternal mortality is potentially a source of lower parental investment in childhood: if parents expect girls to be much more likely to die as young women than boys, they may be more inclined to invest in boys” (1056). Duflo goes on to comment on the price of a future dowry versus the price of an abortion. I found this a little contradictory to many points in the paper, discussing how economic development increases female empowerment and/or vice versa. However, with the increase in technology resulting in lower prices and greater availability for abortions, we see an increase in differences in sex ratios. The paper says, “High differences in reported sex ratios at birth between girls and boys are the result of unreported birth—infanticide—and increasingly, from sex-selective abortion.” In this specific instance, we see economic development actually hindering gender equality.
I was also fascinated by the “stereotype threat” mentioned on page 1062 of Duflo’s paper. It is so sad to see that women are less likely to negotiate with bosses, are evaluated more negatively, and are generally less respected in leadership roles. Many times, these consequences stem from the lack of confidence, specifically when a female doesn’t see herself fit or as eligible for a “typically male considered role” (1062). I would be lying if I said I haven’t walked into an interview or business presentation feeling intimidated and the need to overcompensate my confidence to seem legitimate. While developing nations are moving in the right direction with gender equality, there are lingering problems which stem from psychological biases that will be difficult to fully eradicate.

Griffin Cook

From one perspective, there is a way to understand and justify the inequality in education and expectations for girls in under-developed countries or different cultures aside from long-held customs and traditional beliefs. In fact, the concept reflects some of the points raised in the last article we read. For many poor families, especially in countries without well-developed or established health resources, girls simply present a much higher risk for families. As mentioned in Esther Duflo’s article, the mortality rate for young women giving birth in certain countries or part of the world is unfortunately high. Spending a large portion of income to raise and educate a young girl only for her to die in early adolescence, whether due to childhood or vulnerability to disease, represents an economic loss for the family. This elevated risk presents a choice for poor families, in which they must decide if it is worth spending a significant portion of family resources on a child who may not live past her early youth when there are several other mouths to feed. Regardless, such a factor is likely a small contributing factor towards overall gender inequality when considering the overall circumstances of women in certain countries, and is by no means a valid reason to not educate or provide for younger girls, but nonetheless may be worth some consideration.

I think that one of the primary reasons for a correlation between economic growth and empowering women could also be found in both this article and an issue that was addressed in class in regards to the last article. While they are not entirely altruistic, women have very different spending habits when given control of family finances compared to men, often spending less on items such as alcohol and tobacco and more on educating, feeding, and providing health care for children. This spending raises human capital, which leads to economic growth down the road, as a country’s population becomes healthier and better workers. Thus, even aside from the moral justification for gender equality in numerous countries across the world, there is both statistical and anecdotal evidence to support the hypothesis that empowering women across the world is good for economic growth within a country and social progress within the world and human population as a whole.

Taylor Theodossiou

I agree with Asha in that I have to change my current paradigm to civic engagement. I believe that our work is attempting to create an improvement in Rockbridge County by reaching out to multiple different facets of the community and then coming together to discuss them. Many of us know a lot about poverty, however, by actually going and interacting with the community we are able to do much better.
I believe that the fourth tradition is the tradition of philanthropy that I relate to the most. I believe that poverty is too complicated of a problem for it to be solved by addressing one aspect of the issue. As the essay pointed out on their own each of these traditions have weaknesses. Blindly throwing money at a problem is very problematic in that it doesn’t address the cause and instead focuses on the superficial issue. Although it may help in the short term in the long run it most likely won’t solve the problem it was addressing in the first place. Philanthropy as improvement attempts to address this issue by making the individual responsible for their betterment. However, this attitude blocks entire groups from taking advantage of opportunities provided by this type of philanthropy. However, by combining the two, and even three with the tradition of social reform, people might be able to use the benefits of each tradition to address their weaknesses.
Using civic engagement to understand the problems within the community is key to helping solve problems. I believe that the idea of study circles, neighborhood associations, and “partnering” with communities is a much more effective way to help impoverished people and their communities. I have especially noticed this with international poverty. Often communities do need the help and aid that foreign aid agencies or even local governments are providing. However, often times these organizations do not understand the issues the communities are facing. In the Dominican Republic one of the neighboring communities had a group come in and build a play ground for the kids. They built it right next to the community happy that they were now giving every child the opportunity to play. However, if they had taken a closer look at this community they would have realized that the children already had a playground, up the road close to the community grocery store where everyone spent their leisure time anyways. Adults would sit around the store while their children played and so they did not need this new but closer playground. By simply taking a closer look at the community, which is what civic engagement encourages, the group would never have built that playground in that location. Obviously this is an extreme example yet I think it describes accurately what happens when we don’t address the community and ask them directly what they need.
Although I find that each of these traditions is disagreeable in its own way I believe that the tradition of improvement to be the most disagreeable. Like many of these traditions it is idealistically very sound. However, I believe that this type of philanthropy is the most likely to cover up the underlying issues. As the article pointed out it will block out a large majority of the population even though it may seem like it is working based on the small amount of successes it has with certain individuals. In practice I do not think the tradition of improvement does a good enough job to reach the entire population and therefore I find it to be disagreeable.

Taylor Theodossiou

I apologize for the previous posting. I was posting to a separate forum and it copied wrong to this forum. Here is my actual response to the two articles.
I agree with Sam Smith’s idea that the “world is not ready for gender equality” because, as she effectively showed in her post, there are underlying stereotypes that are too pervasive. Others also commented about how these stereotypes created ideas about a “maternal instinct” among women. Like Callie, I found it especially worrisome that women in low-income countries were seen as poor investments and were often less likely to be treated than their male counterparts. The fact that there is sex-selective abortion in even higher-income countries means that this bias isn’t limited to poor countries. However, I don’t think that it should in any way discredit the role empowering women has on developing economies and vice versa.
Both articles demonstrated just how much impoverished areas benefited from women empowerment. In the Gitter and Barham article we see that giving women power within the home can be beneficial to the families as a whole. The women in Nicaragua were more likely to keep their children in school, which is generally assumed to be a positive effect. Duflo presents us with different ways in which economic development causes women empowerment. For instance, providing more opportunities for the women in the labor market “would provide a strong catalyst for the treatment of women to change for the better.” I would also argue that this leads to an improvement of the stereotype I discussed above. If women are more active in the labor market then they well become less associated with the home and will therefore gain more power. I believe that the stereotypes that women from all parts of the world must be addresses first by giving women opportunities through economic development.

Mac McKee

I'm intrigued by Juan's post concerning males' inability to surrender power to women, that is, to accept true inequality between the sexes. It seems like this is born of a nearly biological insecurity in men. Indeed, it is easy to find instances in our own society of men feeling threatened by intelligent and capable women in many fields. This insecurity might explain in part, as Samantha mentioned, how despite our own country's tremendous level of economic development, there still exists gender inequality. Heavily male institutions such as business (finance in particular) and major politics tend to scoff at women seeking positions of power and influence, due at least in part to this insecurity.

Moreover, I wonder to what extent this resistance to accepting gender equality might be connected the Fernandez piece that Duflo mentions, which argues that when men have fewer children, they focus less on maintaining their power in the household and more on protecting their children. How then, could policy or economic conditions shift men's focus away from a power struggle with women?

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