The August 23, 2009, issue of the New York Times Magazine featured the issue of global women’s rights, anchored by a cover article titled “Why Women’s Rights are the Cause of Our Time.” Authored by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the piece is an essay adapted from their forthcoming book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide ( in bookstores in September). Kristof and WuDunn make a compelling case for not only the human rights imperative of fighting for women’s rights and education around the world, but also for the economic and social value that accrue to countries when women are empowered, able to support their families, and assume leadership roles in their families and communities. “The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution,” the authors write.
Among the many remarkable anecdotes included in the essay is the story of a woman in Zimbabwe who, with the help and support of Heifer International, surmounts a life of poverty and violence to eventually study in the United States at Oklahoma State University, later returning to her village and now pursuing a PhD at Western Michigan University – focusing on the issue of AIDS in Africa.
A common thread runs through the issues in the magazine – the power of education to change the lives of women and create new possibilities both for individuals and for communities, amid even the most desperate circumstances. NAFSA’s magazine International Educator this month begins a two-part series on global women’s education and career development, with an article in the September/October 2009 issue focusing on the Middle East, and another in the spring focused on Africa.