Most of my youthful activism was spent opposing a hot war in Vietnam, working for racial justice and distrusting people over 30 (generally speaking, that meant the men who ran the world). In college, I was supportively on the sidelines of the women's movement.
Later in life, I put professional and personal time into various "women's causes" as they moved on and off the front pages of the news. Never a priority for me, but then never ignored either. To advance a bit of gender balance in government, I have voted for female political candidates.
Now in retirement, I am the volunteer Founder/Chair of MicroCredit Enterprises, a nonprofit which makes microloans (small business loans) to deeply impoverished people around the world. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of our micro-borrowers are women. The goal is alleviating poverty.
Poverty is the story of hard working, but poor, women. Women perform 66% of the world's work, produce 50% of the food, earn just 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property. (source: U.N. Development Fund for Women) According to some estimates, women comprise 70% of the world's poor.
As a matter of social change theory, legal and human rights, economic development policy, cultural advancement, distributive justice, human decency and common sense, women must be empowered, powerful and politically potent. It's that simple.
As Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, modern founder of microfinance, learned that traditional bankers overlook poor women, from her experience as a journalist in Burma and Brazil World Pulse CEO Jensine Larsen discovered that the important stories of poor women often never make it into the mass media. Last year at the Opportunity Collaboration, I learned Jensine's story.
In 2003, then 28, Larsen founded the World Pulse media network to report on global problems through the eyes of women. "I knew I had to speak. From bookstores to lecture halls, I began to tell the stories of Burmese women who, under a brutal dictatorship, had lost everything except their passion for a better future," she recalls.
Thanks to World Pulse, over 100,000 women in 150 countries are today actively speaking out, connecting, on the move. They are using internet cafes, cell phones, the printed word and an interactive, community-based newswire, to effectuate change in their communities and in their own lives.
The human species understands itself through its narrative, by story-telling. World Pulse is telling the narrative of women in their own voices. Without voice, there is no influence, no power, no change and no hope.
World Pulse is an existential test of the power of the media to pinpoint issues, promote causes and empower people, especially female people. World Pulse is a Huffington Post for and by women who are changing the world, but often invisible in it.
You probably don't have the expertise to start up your own media network. You don't have to. Jensine has done it for us. We can subscribe, we can read and we can belong to the new world which World Pulse is helping to create.