TED Conversations

Sarah Dodeen

HR professional, UNHCR


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Why Poverty? Is empowering Women at Rural Areas is the solution? or educating their community is more important as a first step?

I hereby invite all my fellow TEDsters to watch this short movie titled "Solar Mamas: RAFEA" about a Jordanian Bedouin Woman who fought to grab the chance to get a lifetime opportunity to be educated and acquire a new skill to support her family and herself. One of the film makers is a TED Speaker: Ms. Jehane Noujaim:


Awaiting your thoughts and feedback.



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    Mar 10 2013: Sarah, Just a theory, but I think that the answer is cultural. In matrical and patrical societies approaches are different and therefore important within the community.

    It cannot be ignored that the hand that rocks the cradle has a certain value if not a lasting influence.

    Within the United Nations I am sure you take this into consideration.

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • Mar 19 2013: Bob, I'd like to know more about what you are implying? You refer to the differences between matriarchal and patriarchal society and I see your point. The hand that rocks the cradle certainly does have value. Are you suggesting therefore that you feel that hand should remain and therefore the mother/carer, in this case Rafea would be better to not leave her children to take up an opportunity to be educated elsewhere? By "better" I guess I could be talking about better for her, her children or her community and I guess the answer would be different in each case. In view of the conversation the issue we are addressing is poverty in the community. Or are you suggesting that her value and lasting influence can be enhanced by building her education and self worth (the latter is an observation on my part of how education changed Rafea). Of course neither of these interpretations may reflect your thinking so I'd love to hear more about your comment. Thanks.
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        Mar 19 2013: Ellen, As you do not post a location I cannot associate any cultural references to you. That would allow me to make a better response.

        You infer specifics about Refea ... I was responding to the question regarding rural areas, specifically in undeveloped countries. To enter a male dominate society with the goal being to empower women immediately would be a fools mission. That does not mean that it should not be the long term goal. I was simply stating that a understanding of the culture is a valuable asset in the approach.

        I assume by your name you are female ... have you been to a county where it is totally male dominate? I was with a female US Captian who ask the bus to stop so she could get off ... the driver would not take orders from a female. She had to ride until a male ask for the bus to stop.

        The role of the female in much of the world is very difficult and much of the "more liberal" countries who recognize women do not totally appreciate this fact.

        I am afraid you read more into my statement than I intended.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
        • Mar 23 2013: Thanks for your comments Bob. My comment was intended to build my understanding and although I may have sounded like I had drawn some conclusions, in fact, I am happy to engage in conversation.
          I can see you are an experienced contributor to this site and I am keen to learn more.
          I am from Sydney and have no direct experience with rural areas let alone undeveloped countries. My current understanding is limited to that which I can obtain from mainstream media (albeit selected ) and conversations with those who have had direct experience. I work in an area with a high population of new immigrants and refugees and enjoy hearing their stories and perspectives.
          The description you give of the day to day experiences of women in cultures very different to mine is enlightening and it is that level of understanding I would like to build as well as realistic ( but hopeful - if that is possible) ideas on what and how a difference can be made for women like Rafea who have a desire for change.
          Am I correct in saying that in answer to Sarah's question you would be inclined to say that the first avenue would be to address the issue at a community level with a focus on the impact of the local culture? I am very interested to know if I have interpreted your thoughts correctly and to learn more...
          Kind regards
          Ellen ( yes, female :))
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        Mar 23 2013: Ellen, My reply was intended to show that the goal is very important and that we should use the correct tool in the correct situation.

        Rafea's story is great ... however the story is about someone who beat extreme odds. For every Rafea there are thousands of others who suffered great pains in their failures and even death. If her journey was not exceptional it would never have become a TED talk.

        I wish you well. Bob.
        • Mar 25 2013: Thanks for that perspective Bob. While Rafea's story is inspirational it doesn't reflect the experience of many other women. In answer to the debate question, goals and strategies aimed at addressing poverty on the larger scale are more likely to have that effect if they address the needs and circumstances of the wider community. I guess Rafea's story gathers interest and harnesses a sense of hope in those of us "looking on". Taking action is a different matter.

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