Letters to the Editor – redux

Here’s another one that’s still irking me. About three weeks ago (March 6, to be exact), during Bush’s trip to India, an editorial ran in the Globe about women as “Asia’s Untapped Resource”. One of the items mentioned is a group out of Delhi called SEWA (!), or Self-Employed Women’s Association, and its work in helping fund women in India with microloans to start their own small businesses. (More on microfinance here)

Sounds good, right? and in fact it is doing a great deal of good, serving 700,000 women over the last thirty years. But, then the editorial makes it sound like a losing cause by noting that 700,000 is a mere “seven-100ths of 1 percent of India’s 1-billion-plus population.”

It made me think of two things – one is that story of the starfish being stranded on the beach, and two people walking along; one picks up a starfish and throws it back into the ocean, the other says ‘why bother, look how many there are’, and the first person’s response is ‘it matters to that starfish!’ It certainly mattered to those 700,000 women!

And even more, it mattered to their families and their villages that they became producing members of society and were able to support themselves and their children in ways that weren’t possible without SEWA’s help – and that ripple effect was certainly more profound than “just” the 700,000 women themselves.

Wish the Globe editorial writer had thought of that… Not a woman, I guess 😉


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