Thursday, August 15, 2013

What qualifies as news?

Well into the A section of yesterday’s Washington Post, right above an item about a Russian surgeon being arrested for keeping packets of heroin he was ordered to remove from a human “mule’s” stomach, was a short paragraph of jaw dropping news.

Granted, not everyone is interested in women’s rights in our own country, much less in other countries. Still . . . .

The newly elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran appointed a WOMAN vice president for legal affairs. Just the fact that President Rouhani campaigned with the promise to involve more women in government was ground-breaking. Let’s hope his word is good.

In too many countries, women remain at the bottom of the political and economic ladder. A few pages later . . .

. . . . in the same issue, was an open letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Signed by members of the U.S. Congress, it urged him to stop his planned changes to an extraordinary organization: the Grameen Bank.

The gentleman who started this Nobel Prize-winning institution did it to enable impoverished Bangladeshis, most of them women, to take out micro-loans in order to start small businesses. For example: the purchase of a sewing machine could enable a person to earn financial independence for herself and her family. [search Grameen Bank and see how this brilliant, small-scale idea has spread around the world]

Grameen Bank’s clients and investors run the bank, avoiding the national political mire. If Sheik Hasina gets his way, his cronies would replace borrowers who currently sit on the bank’s governing board. In essence, Grameen Bank would become a government institution -- ruinous to it’s mission. In other words -- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Grameen Bank works because it is humane, fair and practical. This is not the time to disenfranchise those who so desperately need, appreciate and benefit from Grameen Bank loans. Honor, not handouts make people strong. Repayment rates prove this.

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