In an interview in 2006, Queen Rania of Jordan pronounced: “Poverty is a she.” With this insight, Queen Rania explained that some of the world’s greatest problems originate with women’s inadequate access to educational and job opportunities. Studies commissioned by the UN offer firm support for Queen Rania’s beliefs. The UN has found time and time again that women are significantly more likely than men to spend their resources feeding and educating their children and other family members. When a woman becomes educated or learns a marketable skill, she becomes empowered by virtue of becoming economically independent, and she helps build a healthier, happier community one child at a time.
Conversely, when a woman has little or no freedom to learn a skill or trade, she usually cannot provide for her family, and she must instead depend on others for the welfare of herself and her children. As a result of their vulnerability and dependence, millions of mothers watch their babies slowly starve to death everyday. Recognizing the pain and unacceptability of these mothers’ reality, Queen Rania believes—as do all of us here at Global Women Artisans—that the international community must help women become economically independent so they might ensure the well-being of their children, and consequently improve the world.
Recently, some have claimed that our goal of improving the lives of women is too large to be taken seriously. Some have charged that our solution for bettering the lives of Third-World women and children seems unlikely to actually improve their impoverished and destitute experience. And at face value, they might be right: How could providing women of the Third-World a venue in which they can sell their art to individuals with disposable income in the First-World really change their circumstances? While we believe social entrepreneurship is by no means an end-all-be-all solution to the harsh reality of poverty, we also believe that we must start somewhere. And like Queen Rania, we believe that we must start with women. By offering women the chance to become economically self-sufficient by selling their beautiful artwork and crafts online, Global Women Artisans hopes to offer women a realistic but significant way in which they can actually change their circumstance.
Obviously, what we do will not cure the world’s problems. But we hope that our efforts will have a ripple effect to improve the lives of a few. If the goal is to ultimately improve life for a generation of people, we at Global Women Artisans feel it is essential to start with their mothers.