As the old axiom goes: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime." But teach a woman to fish, and everyone eats for a lifetime. In this firsthand account, Ritu Sharma shares how women can, and are, overcoming the forces that keep them in poverty. She chronicles her travels through four countries―Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Honduras, and Nicaragua―and the intimate interactions she had with the women living there. Sharma's story not only details her experiences, but also looks at the broader systems that prevent women from leaving poverty behind. From lack of property rights and government corruption to the scarcity of basic infrastructure like roads, these women are restricted by the external limitations placed upon them. Sharma draws from her experiences to frame a larger exploration of how Americans can be instrumental in helping women break free of restrictive systems and begin to facilitate women's upward mobility. Written in her engaging personal voice, Teach a Woman to Fish provides an insider's look at women in poverty, how Washington works, and how change really happens―from the United States to the rest of the world.
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Ritu Sharma is a leading voice on international women's issues and US foreign policy. She is co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide, a non-profit that places the concerns of women and girls living in poverty at the forefront of US international assistance. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland.Review:
“Sharma's experiences not only support the idea that "when you teach a woman to fish, everyone eats," but also serve as an aggressive call to action for anyone who cares about ending global poverty.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Sure to appeal to activists, the book offers an on-the-ground account of one organization's efforts and its strategies for instituting change.” ―Publisher's Weekly
“Ritu Sharma delivers inspiring stories of women and men who are overcoming great obstacles to improve the lives of girls and women under dire circumstances. She also provides insights into how we in America can help individually and through our government's aid programs. Every citizen and lawmaker should read this book.” ―Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, and founder of The Carter Center
“In Teach a Woman to Fish, Ritu Sharma shows us what unites women around the world: devotion to their families, pride in their children, and a willingness to sacrifice for a better future. Using highly accessible prose, she helps make the sometimes abstract concept of women's empowerment concrete, showing how no matter where they live, women's hard work is absolutely essential to building thriving communities” ―Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“Ritu Sharma has a singular commitment to the rights of women and girls, a unique understanding of what it takes to make a difference, and an uncanny ability to combine the two.” ―Eve Ensler, Playwright and Activist
“Ritu Sharma paints a remarkably personal and poignant portrait of both the enormous challenges and the boundless resiliency of women living in some of the world's poorest regions. Most importantly, she provides keen insights into the circumstances that work against them, and offers an array of concrete steps based on the depth of her experience that can change lives and further empower these extraordinary women.” ―Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center
“Ritu Sharma is a passionate leader for women and girls around the world. With her profound understanding and compassion, she gives voice to their inspirational stories of hopes, dreams and challenges that will continue to echo in our hearts.” ―Maria Bello, actor and activist
“With a storyteller's eye and an advocate's passion, Ritu Sharma takes us on a personal journey that lays bare the simple injustices that rob women of their rights and dignity while offering a contrasting vision of aid interventions and policy reforms that unlock their potential for leadership and liberation.” ―Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
“In Teach a Woman to Fish, Women Thrive Worldwide President Ritu Sharma illuminates an elementary truth too often overlooked by policy makers and development practitioners: throughout the world, a woman carries burdens that are not shared by her brothers. Drawing on her experiences working with US political institutions, global development agencies, and with women on the ground, she concludes, convincingly, that women's empowerment is both a fundamental driver and purpose of development.” ―Oxfam's Politics of Poverty blog
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