The Women’s Crusade

The New York Times Magazine | September 2, 2009

I applaud Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn for their remarkable work of highlighting the enormous multiplier effect that the empowerment of women has on families and entire communities. Their efforts have brought to life the dynamic stories of so many girls and women in developing countries who have overcome unthinkable hardship. Yet I was struck by the lack of attention paid to Latin America and the Caribbean in “The Women’s Crusade.” Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of extreme contrasts. Its relative economic prosperity often masks a vast inequality — the greatest degree of disparity between rich and poor in the world, which has significant implications for women. Thirty-five percent of women in the region give birth before the age of 20 and in rural areas that number jumps to 40 to 60 percent. It is the only region in the world where births to adolescent mothers represent the largest fraction of total births.

Regional Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere
New York

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