Monday, January 16, 2012
Rethinking Big Assumptions
I used to try to buy American-made products out of a concern over the conditions in overseas sweatshops. I have been reading, however, about how developing countries' investments in the empowerment of women has allowed many women to move into factory jobs, leading to vast improvements of their lives. When women are no longer kept at home (only able to leave their houses with the permission of their fathers or husbands), they can become educated, learn skills, hold jobs, earn money over which they retain control, gain status and respect, contribute to their countries' GDPs, delay marriages and childbearing, and improve their health and well-being. They can move themselves and their families out of a cycle of poverty. Factory "sweatshop" jobs actual contribute to this. For people like myself who are interested in how the small choices in our daily lives can be connected to larger humanitarian concerns, this is something worth reconsidering. I am reminded that I could benefit from being less parochial in my ideological focus, and from looking with open eyes and mind at the lives of people far from my own liberated home.