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Lions Roar : May 2007
portunity, and open discussions about rights. I had the good fortune of meeting the women whose stories are presented in this book. I witnessed what’s possible when a woman no longer struggles each day to survive in the face of hunger and dis- ease. I have seen the spark ignite when a woman realizes that she can create lasting change—for herself, her children, and her community. When women are free to make the most of their skills and ideas, they create a rising tide that lifts all boats. Here are just a few of the extraordinary women I have met who have broken through a cycle of repression or cultural tradition that limited their well-being and the well-being of their communi- ties—women heroes, remote and unknown, on the vanguard of a global shift toward gender equality. —PHI L BORGES majority of the work that keeps the family alive—they even build the houses—yet they are not allowed to attend the meetings where elder males decide the rules that govern their community. I was dumbfounded and dismayed when I heard more than one of these strong, capable women say, “I’m just a woman.What do I know?” In 2004, I began documenting the work of the humanitarian organization CARE. Empowering women and girls is the cornerstone of its program to eliminate global poverty. After a year and a half spent visiting dozens of CARE projects and meet- ing hundreds of participants and staff around the world, I too came to believe that the most efficient way to alleviate poverty and reduce population pressures in the developing world is to empower women and girls through education, economic op- SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 64