|women word spirit|
|Summer Issue No 127 - Women and Poverty|
Being powerless is one of the most difficult human experiences to cope with - we seem, as human animals, to be predisposed towards taking action, to the extent of being anxious if we can't do so. Of course, we're all powerless in so many ways, most of which are trivial: 'Why doesn't that bus come?', 'Why do I have to keep waiting to speak to a representative on the telephone while they keep on playing music I don't want to hear and assuring me that my call is important to them?' 'Why has my computer lost that document?'...
And of course we all feel powerless to do anything significant about over=arching issues such as world peace, the situation of refugees, or the future of the planet. But in the west, our powerlessness on a personal level is seldom brought home to us urgently. Our situation differs from that of so many women throughout the world, where powerlessness is combined with a degree of poverty barely imaginable to us. While our prayers and our charity donations can only scratch the surface of the need, the very process of becoming better informed and deepening our knowledge of the plight of those trapped by factors beyond their control, should at least mean that such responses involve greater empathy. Resultant from this, there is likely to be not only an increased understanding of how to direct our own giving but also of how to work via any means available to us to encourage those who do have some degree of power to channel aid in a more enlightened way.
In this issue of Network, we have both general explorations of the problem of the powerlessness and poverty suffered by women in so many parts of the world, and first hand accounts of their daily experiences in places as different as Rajastan and Palestine. Without in any way underestimating the difficulties experienced by poor and powerless men throughout so many parts of the world, it is evident that the circumstances of women are often so much worse, as they are often forced to care for all the household needs and to seek to earn money to eke out the family's bare pittance - this often with an abysmal level of health (and maternal mortality).
Lest this all sound too negative, we should draw hope from the fact that the knowledge we now have of the situation of so many women is at least a step towards improving conditions for them!
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