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Discuss the Empowering Women mission here.

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Since Woman basically do most all the cooking, My suggestion for empowerment is to supply them with low cost Biomass cook stoves that produce char and removal of BC aerosols and no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing "Three Stone" stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria,
reduce fuel collection by 40%, allow any biomass to be fuel and reduced cooking time.


http://biocharfund.org/
The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).recently funded The Biochar Fund $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
(4) Climate change.

The Biochar Fund :
Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon
http://scitizen.com/screens/blogPage/viewBlog/sw_viewBlog.php?idThe...
The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )
http://biocharfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&a...

Mark my words; Given the potential for Laurens Rademaker's programs to grow exponentially, only a short time lies between This man's nomination for a Noble Prize.

WorldStove is on the ground with a major biochar stove relief project. Donate: 501c3 account for WorldStove's Haitian Stove Project at International Lifeline fund: International Lifeline Fund
http://www.lifelinefund.org/haiti2.html

WorldStove got this effort moving on Jan 14, just 2 days after the quake. You can follow them on Twitter: WorldStove (WorldStove) on Twitter; http://twitter.com/WorldStove

If I were Sir Richard Branson I would Command;

CARBON WAR ROOM: Biochar Stove Action Plan:
1).... Immediate funding of the numerous Biochar Stove groups,
2).....Those who are in production in China & India; Immediate air lift to Haiti

Packaged with rations & water, seeds

The military is first in Logistics. They can give a man a fish quickly, and feed him for many, many days. We can provide them the tools to help feed him for life.
This proposal is interesting in its intended humanitarian and ecological implications, but if we take the concept of "Empowering Women" to mean that we should plan to afford women around the world with the same opportunities given to men, then it seems as if the low cost Biomass cook stoves will do little more in the way of opening possibilities than reducing food costs. While lowered food costs may be an incredibly desirable goal in countries containing widespread poverty, it does not seem to be the right tool for the job at hand.

If the intent is to open up economic opportunities for women I believe that a model more along the lines of Microcredit may be a more fitting tactic to open credit to women who may otherwise be refused business funds simply due to their gender.

More information can be found on this Wikipedia page and the associated source links, however a short summary of what microcredit is as follows:

"Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship."
~en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcredit

While microcredt is a very stable investment and creates many opportunities for people to form credit histories with local banks and businesses, it is not without its pitfalls. These small loans, intended to empower both men and women, have the effect of increasing the costs of dowries in growing economies utilizing microcredit models. As a result, families must then take microloans in order to secure the funds needed to pay such dowries for their daughters (source). Other issues include physical coercion on the part of local lenders to recoup payments, cycles and debt, and so on.

Despite having fallen short of its mission, there is something in the concept of microcredit that is empowering to those who otherwise lack access to capital. It lies in the ready access to solid funds with stable return rates and the formation of credit histories. This exchange of business where once the parties involved would never have been imagined, let alone funded, is worth pursuing.
hmm this is more harder than just building a device to power something but i have a idea.

first: it has to be as close to grassroots as possible because we are empowering people not places not sure how that works.

Second: that means funds like they have in the comic

Third: and im not sure how this will play out but hire more women Down side you are ignoring men even if they are better at it

fourth: Balance it out THIS WILL be the hardest part
we need a society overhaul, not spot-fixes. we must acknowledge and fight the ideas and beliefs that perpetuate gender inequality. i talk about them in my blog post below.

http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/i-will-monitor-the-gender

remember, seek the TRUTH!
I'm not sure where this is going. There is a strong proselytizing streak in Western culture and an almost missionary zeal in speading Western concepts of ethics, mores, morality, beliefs and behavior with the intent of converting the developing world into simulacra of the West. Have any of the people playing this game given any thought to the possibility that that trying to empower women in developing countries to behave like women of the West, equal rights, voting, holding political office, running businesses is nothing short of cultural imperialism ? Who are we in the West to determine that women in Third World countries will be happier, more fulfilled, more comtent with their lives if they adopt Western ways ? Before we decide how to empower women perhaps we need to define just what it is that makes a life a good one, a satisfying one, even a joyous one and make sure that this is what we are doing when we decide to improve their lot in life by telling them they would be better off if only they would adopt Western notions. Very rarely do people examine underlying assumptions. Before going any further with this improvement plan let's examine our Western underlying assumptions to see if they are suitable, practical or even desireable for people who just may be reasonably happy with their lives as they are, not as we would like them to be.
I agree with Steve Ward that this movement must begin as a grass roots-style one, much as the Suffrage Movement in America began in the mid-1800s with marches, protests, and the formation of organizations. Organizing is, first and foremost, still the most effective method for any disenfranchised group of people to make themselves heard.

I would also like to add the elephant in the room that no one is recognizing: religion. Many countries in the world where women are not empowered are predominantly religious countries. Christianity blames women for original sin; Islam forces women to wear burkhas, or even full-body coverings - the beginning of this movement should be a debunking of foolish traditions rooted in religion. But perhaps casting aside the chains of religious oppression are to be an Evoke challenge at a later date...

The concept of micro-credit proposed by Eugene (may I call you Eugene?) is a very good one. In some Asian cultures, some women are responsible for all of the money, and the men are given allowances. This system has its flaws as well, but it is a start. Empowering women with their own money is key to fostering independence.

There should be writers spreading the word for those women who are literate, and public speakers for those who are not. Set them up in places where women traditionally gather, such as markets, homes, and schools. I wouldn't suggest reaching out to the children just yet, because that may be tainted and claimed as a tactic to poison the minds of the young.

A lot can be gained here from studying the Women's Suffrage Movement in America. I would propose that we study their tactics and employ as much of them as we can in our own scenario.
Kevin, I appreciate that you want to take a step back and re-evaluate ourselves as potential innovators before trying to solve the problems of those that seem to be without what we take for granted. In this case, however, I think it is not so ridiculous to say that our current Western values for women triumph those of poorer, less-established countries. I think that in America, Canada, England, and France (just to name a few Western nations) women are empowered in so much as they have freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of speech - freedom to do whatever they damn well please. In many societies where women cannot vote, it is safe to say that they also cannot say whatever they please without fear of punishment; cannot wear whatever they want, whenever they want (how about Catholic school uniforms?); cannot choose who they marry, or at what age they do so.

I would say that these choices that women have in the West are integral to happiness. And if you could argue the contrary, I would ask that these women be educated and learn just what it means to have freedom. It can be very satisfying and easy to have everything done for you. But what if one day, you want more for yourself, and are suddenly told that no, you can't have or do that?

Kevin McGonigal said:
I'm not sure where this is going. There is a strong proselytizing streak in Western culture and an almost missionary zeal in speading Western concepts of ethics, mores, morality, beliefs and behavior with the intent of converting the developing world into simulacra of the West. Have any of the people playing this game given any thought to the possibility that that trying to empower women in developing countries to behave like women of the West, equal rights, voting, holding political office, running businesses is nothing short of cultural imperialism ? Who are we in the West to determine that women in Third World countries will be happier, more fulfilled, more comtent with their lives if they adopt Western ways ? Before we decide how to empower women perhaps we need to define just what it is that makes a life a good one, a satisfying one, even a joyous one and make sure that this is what we are doing when we decide to improve their lot in life by telling them they would be better off if only they would adopt Western notions. Very rarely do people examine underlying assumptions. Before going any further with this improvement plan let's examine our Western underlying assumptions to see if they are suitable, practical or even desireable for people who just may be reasonably happy with their lives as they are, not as we would like them to be.
I am female, African, and i have spent all of my life in a developing country. thankfully i grew up in a middle class home, and i haven't had to suffer the degree of discrimination a lot of women have had too. But i have seen it played out everyday in different ways around me, and its definitely worse in the rural/predominantly illiterate areas of my country.
The worst part of gender discrimination is that it is very deeply embedded in many of our cultural beliefs. As an African i can tell you we take pride in our ability to do feminine things- cook well, have children, manage a home. But on no account do you want to be considered inferior in intellect, or ability to do a job well on account of your gender. Now we can vote, but even in the smallest family decisions,as a female your opinion cannot be accepted as viable without it being vetoed by a man. in many families, male children are still considered more valuable, and treated with more care than the female children. the most extreme conditions are areas where girl education in still considered unimportant, but even when a female child can get a tertiary education, she is considered incapable of pursuing some career paths because she is a woman.
In my final year of medical school, a senior colleague who was meant to be counselling me on my options to specialize in literally ruled out neurosurgery, urology as options for me because i am a woman and cannot cope, telling me to stick with the most suitable thing for me-paediatrics being top of the list! What if i really wanted to be a neurosurgeon?
People are more openly receptive to my male colleagues because they are male, and even in the largest cities in my country i am called nurse in a white ward coat, whilst a male nurse is addressed as doctor. These are subtle, maybe just insulting to my psyche, but when even with my background and academic qualifications I still have a lid placed on how much i am allowed to do in my society's mind, think of how much worse it is in rural areas, where women, from their birth till their death are of less importance than their male counterparts. Where their decision making power is severely limited, and they have no financial capacity even though they support wh*** communities. Where they are not allowed to dream, and even when they can there is almost no chance of making that dream a reality.
Suffrage in my environment is good, but almost inconsequential what with the corruption eating away at our society. Grassroots is where the greatest oppression is felt, and like someone rightly said, many of these women have lived in this thinking pattern for so long, they do not understand what liberation is. However amidst the many things that we can do to create a change in the quality of a woman's life, a good education and financial empowerment are two things that every woman longs for in her heart.
A good basic education gives a female child the words with which to give voice to her desire. To fight for a better place in society- for her and her future children. It helps her to improve her health seeking behavior, and gives her the confidence to save, and seek for a bank loan. It helps her to send her own children to school, and to seek for even better opportunities for them than she had.
Financial empowerment, improves the standard of living of her family. It allows her to dream of expanding whatever small enterprise she has,or to start one. It reduces her fear of asking a man for money- whether it is a polygamous husband, a violent boyfriend, or an unsafe paying customer. And in my society as in many others, the degree of limitation on the woman often determines how far her children will go- especially the female ones. The more she has, the more able she is to fight for a life for a younger female because if there is barely anything society silently says the male gets the only chance.
The west is indeed an apostle of many "gospels", but their gospel of empowering women is not altogether unacceptable, if they remember to adapt their theology to our culture. Not to deride our pride in what we have been brought up to believe, but to help make our live better by giving us the freedom to dream, and live out our very simple dreams.


Mathew Kennedy said:
Kevin, I appreciate that you want to take a step back and re-evaluate ourselves as potential innovators before trying to solve the problems of those that seem to be without what we take for granted. In this case, however, I think it is not so ridiculous to say that our current Western values for women triumph those of poorer, less-established countries. I think that in America, Canada, England, and France (just to name a few Western nations) women are empowered in so much as they have freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of speech - freedom to do whatever they damn well please. In many societies where women cannot vote, it is safe to say that they also cannot say whatever they please without fear of punishment; cannot wear whatever they want, whenever they want (how about Catholic school uniforms?); cannot choose who they marry, or at what age they do so.

I would say that these choices that women have in the West are integral to happiness. And if you could argue the contrary, I would ask that these women be educated and learn just what it means to have freedom. It can be very satisfying and easy to have everything done for you. But what if one day, you want more for yourself, and are suddenly told that no, you can't have or do that?

Kevin McGonigal said:
I'm not sure where this is going. There is a strong proselytizing streak in Western culture and an almost missionary zeal in speading Western concepts of ethics, mores, morality, beliefs and behavior with the intent of converting the developing world into simulacra of the West. Have any of the people playing this game given any thought to the possibility that that trying to empower women in developing countries to behave like women of the West, equal rights, voting, holding political office, running businesses is nothing short of cultural imperialism ? Who are we in the West to determine that women in Third World countries will be happier, more fulfilled, more comtent with their lives if they adopt Western ways ? Before we decide how to empower women perhaps we need to define just what it is that makes a life a good one, a satisfying one, even a joyous one and make sure that this is what we are doing when we decide to improve their lot in life by telling them they would be better off if only they would adopt Western notions. Very rarely do people examine underlying assumptions. Before going any further with this improvement plan let's examine our Western underlying assumptions to see if they are suitable, practical or even desireable for people who just may be reasonably happy with their lives as they are, not as we would like them to be.
Kevin,

I think you bring up an excellent point. Team America to the rescue! As much it is our responsibility to step in and help because we're "sooo" smart and advanced, we must remember that this is our point of view.
We first must understand and respect them if we are genuinely interested in helping them.

For example, many women choose to completely cover themselves with garb because that is what "they" believe is right because their religion. I think if we're going to discredit their traditions, we must be very respectful and sensitive in the approach because while they may be foolish to us, it is part of who they are, and in many cases, who they want to be.

Luke
Kevin McGonigal said:
...Before we decide how to empower women perhaps we need to define just what it is that makes a life a good one, a satisfying one, even a joyous one and make sure that this is what we are doing [...] Before going any further with this improvement plan let's examine our Western underlying assumptions to see if they are suitable, practical or even desireable for people who just may be reasonably happy with their lives as they are, not as we would like them to be.

Precisely the reason I chose 'Understanding' as the prime Secret of Learn1. Empowerment must arise through right apprehension of the target-cultures' actual needs as perceived by the people themselves. Thus will sustainable change flower from the sovereigns' position of power instead of flowing from a benefactor. Entitlement and gift programs from a top-down angle tend to enslave both the giver and receiver... sustainability arises from the orchestration of free-standing basins of reciprocal action, not from one-way feeds.

Any attempt to impose 'improvement' is going to meet inertial resistance which will be counterproductive to assistive aspirations. For those who are content with the status quo, or who bear the yoke of passivity with gladness, respect is due in the form of non-interference. However, for women who aspire unto freedom -- that is, aspire to be free from their perceived resistances and restrictions in any given sphere of action -- then it is in Humanity's best interests to foster such self-reliance at every opportunity with all ingenuity possible. Thus will general conditions improve the individual's liberty, such as the net result in a village when the women are empowered to make the changes they desire and need.
Bravo... Josh Z,

My argument for clean burning , low cost, biomass stoves are ec**enical. To free the time & volume of fuel collection, cooking time, to free her, and her children's lungs from disease, and to increase food security via fertility of increasing soil carbon content.

How the time is spent, are opportunities for empowerment. Educational, religious, or economic, it all seems good to me.

I repeat Myself;
The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )
http://biocharfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&a......

There are many empowering women. Rosa Parks is one of the many. She took a stand and changed history forever. Michelle Obama is also very powerful. She is the first lady, and has a large influence. To me the definition of empowering women is someone with an effluence that uses it in the right, and beneficial way.

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