The Paramount Moral Challenge Of Our Time

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“Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater.  There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chief of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism.”

From the inimitable Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn in The New York Times Magazine of August 23, 2009.

The whole issue is devoted to women’s rights on a global scale and serves as a prelude to the imminent release of Kristoff and WuDunn’s new book on the subject, Half The Sky. If you do a simple search on The New York Times for Kristof’s Op-Eds, probably 1 in 3 of them have something to do with women’s rights, especially women in impoverished countries who have very limited freedoms.

Kristof’s articles provided enlightening supplementary material when I spent two months reading through the horrors in Bolaño’s 2666. Sometimes you need to be reminded of unspeakable injustice, again and again and again.

The N.Y. Times Magazine this week also has other illuminating features: an interview with Liberia’s head of state (who is a woman), a follow-up article about the horrific perils facing Afghan girls, and a fascinating article about the emergence of feminist war hawks.


Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →