Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Glenn Beck Doesn't Think Women's Rights Should be Military Goal

I find this little ditty from the August 24 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program quite fascinating. Given that much of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has been billed as "democracy building," you'd think Mr. Beck would have a clearer view of the importance of strong women's roles in a developing democracy. Democratization is harmed by not including gender as an important axis in assessing the character of political institutions, and gender theorists have long suggested that gender is a primary organizing principle of the state. Given the way the Taliban has horribly oppressed women and girls, it does not seem out of bounds to me that, in working with Afghan nationals, the roles and opportunities for women and girls would be part of our focus.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Egyptian poet Hafez Ibrahim said: "When you educate a woman, you create a nation." Another play on this idea came from Robert M. Maciver when he said, "When you educate a man you educate an individual; when you educate a woman you educate a whole family." Investments in women and girls -- through increased education, family planning, and labor force participation -- can lead to real economic growth in developed and developing countries. The cause of women's empowerment has never been more important. So yes, Mr. Beck, our soldiers -- an unprecedented amount of whom are women -- care about women's equality as they carry out their mission.

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently put it, gender inequality is "the dominant moral challenge we face in the 21st century."

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