As part of Mom Blogger’s for Social Good (a global coalition of over 3,000 mom bloggers), I have received an advance copy of the inspiring new book by Betsy Teutsch called “100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women”, for review. All opinions below are my own take on the book.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
In the field of international development, it is a well-known fact that women are powerful agents of change and development, and it is only by empowering women and girls that the world will be lifted out of extreme poverty. Yet despite this easy assertion women and girls continue to be the most impoverished, most vulnerable and most neglected human beings in the world.
There are many reasons why women and girls continue to suffer the most. Cultural beliefs and norms, war and violence, poverty, lack of infrastructure and education continue to play a significant role in women’s empowerment and rights. However, despite some of these challenging, long-held beliefs, traditions and obstacles, there are proven, cost-effective ways to change the lives of billions of women and girls living in extreme poverty.
Author Betsy Teutsch’s new inspiring and engaging book “100 Under $100” takes a look at one hundred of the most exceptional yet simple and cost-effective tools that can be used in real-life settings to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. “100 Under $100” dives into eleven critical sectors highlighting simple, relatively cheap tools that are all under $100 to implement in the areas of:
- General Health
- Girls’ and Women’s Health
- Lights, Cell Phone Charging, and Energy
- WASH = Water and Sanitation Hygiene
- Domestic Technology
- Subsistence Farming
- Information and Communication Technology
- Financial Inclusion
- Legal Tools
The book is highly recommended for anyone who works in international development, women and girl’s rights and empowerment, or anyone who simply wants to learn about all the fascinating, innovative technologies that are out there to help improve the world. Teutsch even dedicates her book to “all who engage in Tikkun Olam or “repairing the world”.
What I love most about Teutsch’s book is how she wrote it and what inspired her to write the book that took years of research and love to create. Teutsch says that the powerful images of women’s transformative global work that she found on the internet in Pinterest is what inspired her to create the book. The book includes over 150 photographs of women and girls that document the story of women’s empowerment. Instead of using the common photographs we see of women and girls in poverty, Teutsch was inspired to focus on the positive depictions of women and girls changing their lives with simple, cost-effective tools. Photos that showed their strength, perseverance, and resilience. Not photos that showed them as victims.
In my eyes, this is a great step forward in improving the lives of women and girls. It is also something I would like to work on harder myself as I too often take pictures of the beauty of women and girls around the world but my photos do not always portray them for who they really are: Strong, powerful, and resilient.
Given the amazing list of low-cost, high-impact tools and practices for empowering women and girls, it is hard to summarize everything in a short post. Instead, I will give you my top five favorite ideas below.
1. Vaccine Delivery. Investment in health is the cornerstone of global development. When health improves, all aspects of families’ lives improve. They are able to work, go to school, have fewer children and feed their families. The provision of critical vaccines are the most cost-effective, life-saving investments possible in global health and improving lives. Sadly, weak vaccine delivery systems in the developing world fail many of the world’s poorest children, who die from preventable causes.
Thankfully organizations such as GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and partners ShotatLife and Path have come together to work at providing global vaccines at a low-cost saving millions of lives. I have personally advocated with the United Nations Foundation Shot@tLife for years as I believe so strongly in the cause and the ease of saving lives. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can easily donate a vaccine and save a life.
2. Misoprostol: Saving Mothers’ Lives
Access to health care and services is so incredibly important in saving the lives of women and girls that I had to include another amazing, cost-effective tool in that arena. It is not only tragic but absurd that 800 women die every single day during childbirth due to preventable causes. The leading cause of maternal mortality rates in the developing world is postpartum hemorrhage. In many countries around the world, women do not have access to a trained birthing assistant or a hospital and deliver unassisted at home. Many of these women die by bleeding to death and of course this can be prevented.
Misoprostol is an inexpensive pill that requires no refrigeration and is administered orally to prevent or treat postpartum hemorrhage. It costs under $1 a dose. Here are some organizations that provide it: LifeforAfricanMothers and VSInnovations.
3. Lights: Portable Solar Lanterns and Lamps
It is hard to comprehend that an estimated 1.3 billion people live off the grid with no electricity. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without light. I’ve been in countries like Ethiopia, India and Haiti where the majority of the population live without electricity. When the sun sets, life stops. No homework can be done, no housework can be finished, stores close and worse the situation can get dangerous for women and girls living in poverty. Leaving the house can subject them to violence or sexual assault. Worse yet, imagine giving birth in the dark at home. Millions of women do.
For the cost of only $10-20 you can provide them with a portable solar lamp and change their life. Organizations such as Solar Sister is just one of many working to provide portable solar LED lamps and lanterns.
4. Cell Phones
Did you know that the world has over 6.8 billion cell phone subscribers? I find this to be astounding. The opportunity for improving people’s lives with a cell phone is endless and touches all area of global development: Education, Health Care, Finance, Banking, and more. For the world’s poor, cell phones have enabled them to leapfrog technology and change their lives and the good news is that mobile phone prices continue to drop making them more and more accessible. Grids continue to be developed and solar recharging stations have become readily available.
What does this all mean? Girls who live remotely and far from a school can learn online. Mothers can be reminded of their children’s immunizations or get answers to health care questions when doctors are days away on foot. Farmers can learn ways to improve their crops. Women can become open to the world of mobile money by using their cell phone as their bank. The power of a cell phone is endless and life-changing.
Believe it or not, cell phones are affordable even for the very poor yet some 20% fewer woman than men have cell phones because men often control the purchasing decisions. Furthermore, there remain challenges to really remote parts of the world receiving adequate reception. There are several fabulous organizations working to improve access to cell phones and services on cell phones to women and girls. One of my favorites is Mama.org (provides health care information for women and girls).
5. Legal Tools: Simple tools to improve the rights of women and girls are essential to lifting them out of poverty. Yet tragically, the rights of women and girls are largely ignored in many parts of the world where they are often treated as second class citizens. Simple things such as access to Universal Birth Registrations, the eradication of forced and child marriages, the adoption of international violence against women act, fighting sex trafficking, providing access to land title, deeds and inheritance rights, and finally giving women the ability to vote – will improve the status of women and girls around the world.
Living in a middle-class America, I realize how fortunate I have personally been to have traveled and worked in many developing countries around the world. Yet I realize that many people have not had such a similar, eye-opening experience. Sometimes when I talk and write about the numbers and all the tragedies that occur around the world, I feel my audience gets rather numb. It can be numbing, and it can be easy to just throw in the towel and forget about trying to help. The problems seem insurmountable.
I argue that “100 Under $100” gives people easy, relatively inexpensive tools to make small changes that do make a difference and may even save a life. It is only by working together that we can all make the world a better place.
To read the review or order “100 Under $100”, please click here on the Amazon link.