Uncertainty and vulnerability are hallmarks of life for the world's poor, in low and high income countries. Collective action helps on different levels, across different dimensions of life, to overcome.
This week, The New York Times published an article, “Africa Holds Worst Rates for First-Day Baby Deaths, Report Says.” I silently groaned, thinking that Africa is often unfairly singled out as a poverty stricken, dismal place. These headlines bother me for the mere fact that there are not enough headlines highlighting the qualities that make the continent far from dismal.
Everyone, from Save the Children, Plan International, and UNICEF, to BRAC, agrees that the early years are critical to a child’s overall development. How best to invest in those early years is a fertile topic for exploration and debate among academics, scientists, and policymakers. What if early childhood and adolescent development was also seen as a potential career path for women?
“What I most regretted were my silences.” – Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
In honor of International Women’s Day, we use the words of Audre Lorde, a self-described black lesbian poet, who spent the better part of her life advocating for female empowerment and equality. Through solidarity and individual self-awareness, Lorde recognized the innate power of women in overcoming oppression. Her words are the embodiment of empowerment, not only for women but marginalized groups from all walks of life. She firmly believed that “it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence.”
In session at a BRAC Primary School in the Korail slum of Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Photo: Oscar Abello/BRAC)
The conditions into which a child is born affects not only her future opportunity, but also her position in society.
Poverty itself can limit society's expectations of the child’s ability to perform well in school, constantly reminding her of the miniscule chance she has to overcome adversity and poverty.
The BRAC birthing kit is a small packet wrapped in plastic, about the size of a Pop-Tart, and it’s saving lives. This packet is an excellent example of jugaad, one of the buzzwords making the rounds in the business world.
Jugaad is a colloquial term in Hindi for an innovative fix or improvised solution – a frugal innovation.