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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Failed States, Just Give Women A Chance!

Thanks to World Pulse - the largest network of women, I now have a colleague in each of the 187 countries. So anything happens anywhere in the world and I can actually have someone to connect it to! And that's what I am doing now, linking the Failed State Index to my colleagues in - the failed states!


Early this week, I started reading the Failed State Index 2012 – an annual, globally recognized and accepted report prepared by the Washington DC- based organization Fund for Peace that ranks countries of the world according to their stability and capacity.

Topping the list of the failed states, for the fifth straight time, is Somalia. According to J J Messner, editor of the report, if this was a championship, Somalia would be called a legend. But since it’s not, the rank only indicates how bad the state of affairs is in the country where chaos and conflicts rule. Things are almost equally bad in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has gotten the dubious 2nd place. Also sharing the space in the top 10 bracket is Zimbabwe.

Now, I have read this report a couple of times in earlier and just took them as what they were: a compilation of facts. But this year as I was reading it, a series of faces flashed before my eyes; women who are young, energetic, forever challenging, forever questioning everything that is wrong and, what’s more, also working to set them right.

These women come from these failed states, but are anything but a representative of failure. And here’s the reason why I thought of them: they are women of our very own World Pulse change-makers’ fraternity.

The first person that I thought of was Sah Koshin – my fellow Voice of our future (VoF) Correspondent ’11-12 who is working to promote girls education in Somalia. A young mother with a baby girl, Sah has passionately spoken a number of times about girls’ education in her conversations both and out of world pulse. 

Earlier, I remember reading an interview of the noted Somalian woman human rights activist called Zam Zam Adbullahi who told Amnesty International that the key to change Somalia was to make education accessible to all Somalian girls. Abdullahi said that girls in Somalia were often told that girls were deprived of education in the name of religion and it had to be challenged. Today Sah is doing exactly that.

Moving on to DRC, I thought of Neema Namadamu – another VOF correspondent who is fighting so many enemies simultaneously: disability, gender violence, inequality and more. She has been exposing the horror of war-time rape in DRC which is torn with civil war and trying to end this worst form of gender-violence. Once you have known Neema, it is hard to believe that she comes from a country which is the Failed State No 2 in the world! 

Also hard to believe is the state of Zimbabwe, which ranks fifth in the top 10 failed states’ list, is where my fellow VoF correspondents Rumbidzai Dube lives. A loud and fierce human rights defender, Rumbi –as I have come to call her now- is a young lawyer who will not back down or shut up unless you have literally gagged her. 

There are many such names that I am thinking of – all of them World Pulse members - including those from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cote D’Ivoire, Iraq and Nigeria – the ‘top grader’ countries in the failed state index. And all of them are women driven by a goal: to bring a positive change. From campaigning for girls education, health and human rights for all to opposing violence and corruption, they are investing their energy to take their societies towards a better future.

If only the states started listening to these voices of sanity and positivity! If only there was more space and more takers of their thoughts!

But I am not here to lament what’s missing. I am here to say this: it’s time for the countries to make room for their emerging women leaders because, they cannot only change the political and cultural landscape, but also help them lose that shameful ‘Failed state’ crown they don’t want.

For the non-believers, there is the example of Finlandthe country which has beaten everyone else – including the US and the UK – to be the most sustainable state in the world. And one of the biggest reasons has been the Finnish society’s amazing record in respecting and practicing women’s rights. In fact, Hillary Clinton - the US secretary of State couldn’t stop praising the equal status of women in Finland during her recent visit to the country. And why shouldn’t she? After all, Finland is now the best place on earth for a woman to live!

So, there is hope yet for the failed states, just give your women a chance.

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