Wednesday, June 22, 2005

worth fighting for

Trying to create change in other countries requires both awareness and sensitivity to cultural issues. For example, trying to fight HIV/AIDS in the developing world is fruitless unless you understand gender relations, views on sexuality and more in the country or region where a program is being implemented.

Condi Rice thinks that those who are pushing for greater women's rights in the Middle East need to be aware of and respectful to cultural traditions. In Saudi Arabia, for example, Condi thinks women should eventually be given the right to vote, but she's not willing to push for them to have the right to drive out of "respect".

There were a few cultural traditions here in the U.S. that, if respected and still in place, would mean that Rice would be wearing a maid's uniform right about now, instead of that hot black leather number she got all that press for this spring.

Not being able to drive is not just an inconvenience that means that the little lady can't get to the mall. It means that she is limited in terms of economic opportunity and independence and it's worth fighting for. It means that, when they finally do give her the right to vote, she's going to have to ask her husband to give her a ride to the polls.

Speaking of women's rights, check out
Nicholas Kristof's piece from Tuesday's New York Times. He wants President Bush to hold back on his praise for Pakistan's Prime Minister when he comes to DC next month. Instead, maybe he could use the occasion to tell President Pervez Musharraf to get his country's act together in regard to the repeated violations of the rights of women who have been raped.

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