A new report from the World Bank brings welcome news on the global poverty front.Despite the worldwide recession of the late 2000s, the total number of people living in extreme poverty has actually gone down in recent years -- so much, in fact, that we've reached the first of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals five years ahead of schedule, a startling achievement.
A ripple of laughter spreads through the room during Beatrice's prayer. We're in the town of Nansana, in central Uganda, taking part in a meeting of 25 micro-borrowers, all of them local women. Somebody translates: "Dear Lord, please make us strong and successful," Beatrice said before the group, before adding: "And put women above men for a change."
The following was originally posted by BRAC USA President & CEO Susan Davis on The Huffington Post. This morning, I received a touching letter from Munshi Sulaiman about his recent trip to Pakistan to see BRAC's Ultra Poor program there. Munshi has been working with BRAC for the last 8 years and currently coordinates BRAC's research activities outside Bangladesh.
On Monday, I had the opportunity to speak at Star Island’s 2010 International Affairs Conference on the rock shoal of Star Island off the coast of New Hampshire. It was a very moving experience as I got the chance to interact with a unique group of people -- generations of families who have been traveling to Star Island for years, enthusiastically learning new things from leading academics and practitioners working in international development in a relaxing and beautiful natural environment.This year, the Conference focused on “Empowering Women and Children for Global Health” with a focus on the growing perspective that the world’s health care challenges can be met by promoting and empowering women and children. Along with Donna Barry of Partners in Health, Ann Cotton of CAMFED and other experts in the field, I was asked to share my experiences about social entrepreneurship, microfinance and the empowerment of women. While the participants had read Kristof and WuDunn’s Half the Sky and Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, most of this learned audience had not yet heard of BRAC and its remarkable story and holistic approach to development. They were interested to know about Ian Smillie’s book on BRAC, Freedom From Want, as well as my new book, Social Entrepreneurship, co-authored with David Bornstein (and even carried it in their bookstore on the island!).
This post was also featured on The Huffington Post blog. While the UN says that the world is on track to reach the first Millennium Development Goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015, progress toward goal #5, to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015, remains the target for which progress has been most disappointing. While there is progress, as highlighted by the Lancet's recent estimates of falling maternal mortality rate, which is worth celebrating, the sense of urgency has not, and should not, abate.