An international women’s issues advocate tells the story of how females all over the developing world are seeking to improve their economic prospects and create better futures for themselves and their families.
Women Thrive Worldwide founder Sharma traveled to three regions in the developing world—Southeast Asia, Central America and West Africa—to see how everyday women dealt with poverty. Her goal was to not just understand what it meant to live on $1 or less per day like the estimated 1.3 billion people in the world who do so. It was also to see the specific social, political and economic forces that kept women, who are primary caregivers and important breadwinners for their families throughout the developing world, down. In Sri Lanka, Sharma witnessed the informal economic system that allowed women to work from home while also ruthlessly exploiting them. At the same time, she also saw individual companies that treated women workers fairly and created hope for thousands of people. In Honduras, she observed how a farm association that pledged to support peasant women had taken advantage of them. With Sharma's help, these females fought back and won. In Burkina Faso, she watched as women struggled against institutionalized sexism to create some of the most progressive national gender policies anywhere in the developing world. Sharma also listened to stories from courageous women who faced violence, humiliation and domestic abuse but had nevertheless managed to survive and even thrive. No matter where in the world poor women lived, they all shared one desire: that their children receive the education they did not have “to live well…and be free from the illiteracy, deprivation and suffering they have endured.”
Sharma's experiences not only support the idea that “when you teach a woman to fish, everyone eats,” but also serve as an aggressive call to action for anyone who cares about ending global poverty.