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  • The global challenge that I want to talk to you about today

  • rarely makes the front pages.

  • It, however, is enormous

  • in both scale and importance.

  • Look, you all are very well traveled;

  • this is TEDGlobal after all.

  • But I do hope to take you to some places

  • you've never been to before.

  • So, let's start off in China.

  • This photo was taken two weeks ago.

  • Actually, one indication is that little boy on my husband's shoulders

  • has just graduated from high school.

  • (Laughter)

  • But this is Tiananmen Square.

  • Many of you have been there. It's not the real China.

  • Let me take you to the real China.

  • This is in the Dabian Mountains

  • in the remote part of Hubei province in central China.

  • Dai Manju is 13 years old at the time the story starts.

  • She lives with her parents,

  • her two brothers and her great-aunt.

  • They have a hut that has no electricity,

  • no running water,

  • no wristwatch, no bicycle.

  • And they share this great splendor

  • with a very large pig.

  • Dai Manju was in sixth grade when her parents said,

  • "We're going to pull you out of school

  • because the 13-dollar school fees are too much for us.

  • You're going to be spending the rest of your life in the rice paddies.

  • Why would we waste this money on you?"

  • This is what happens to girls in remote areas.

  • Turns out that Dai Manju was

  • the best pupil in her grade.

  • She still made the two-hour trek to the schoolhouse

  • and tried to catch every little bit of information

  • that seeped out of the doors.

  • We wrote about her in The New York Times.

  • We got a flood of donations --

  • mostly 13-dollar checks

  • because New York Times readers are very generous

  • in tiny amounts

  • (Laughter)

  • but then, we got a money transfer

  • for $10,000 --

  • really nice guy.

  • We turned the money over to that man there, the principal of the school.

  • He was delighted.

  • He thought, "Oh, I can renovate the school.

  • I can give scholarships to all the girls,

  • you know, if they work hard and stay in school.

  • So Dai Manju basically

  • finished out middle school.

  • She went to high school.

  • She went to vocational school for accounting.

  • She scouted for jobs down in Guangdong province in the south.

  • She found a job, she scouted for jobs

  • for her classmates and her friends.

  • She sent money back to her family.

  • They built a new house,

  • this time with running water,

  • electricity, a bicycle,

  • no pig.

  • What we saw was a natural experiment.

  • It is rare to get an exogenous investment

  • in girls' education.

  • And over the years, as we followed Dai Manju, we were able to see

  • that she was able to move out of a vicious cycle

  • and into a virtuous cycle.

  • She not only changed her own dynamic,

  • she changed her household, she changed her family, her village.

  • The village became a real standout.

  • Of course, most of China was flourishing at the time,

  • but they were able to get a road built

  • to link them up to the rest of China.

  • And that brings me to my first major

  • of two tenets of "Half the Sky."

  • And that is that

  • the central moral challenge

  • of this century

  • is gender inequity.

  • In the 19th century, it was slavery.

  • In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism.

  • The cause of our time

  • is the brutality that so many people

  • face around the world because of their gender.

  • So some of you may be thinking,

  • "Gosh, that's hyperbole.

  • She's exaggerating."

  • Well, let me ask you this question.

  • How many of you think there are more males or more females in the world?

  • Let me take a poll. How many of you think there are more males in the world?

  • Hands up, please.

  • How many of you think -- a few -- how many of you there are more females in the world?

  • Okay, most of you.

  • Well, you know this latter group, you're wrong.

  • There are, true enough,

  • in Europe and the West,

  • when women and men

  • have equal access to food and health care,

  • there are more women, we live longer.

  • But in most of the rest of the world, that's not the case.

  • In fact, demographers have shown

  • that there are anywhere between 60 million

  • and 100 million

  • missing females in the current population.

  • And, you know, it happens for several reasons.

  • For instance, in the last half-century,

  • more girls were discriminated to death

  • than all the people killed on all the battlefields

  • in the 20th century.

  • Sometimes it's also because of the sonogram.

  • Girls get aborted before they're even born

  • when there are scarce resources.

  • This girl here, for instance,

  • is in a feeding center in Ethiopia.

  • The entire center was filled with girls like her.

  • What's remarkable is that her brothers, in the same family,

  • were totally fine.

  • In India, in the first year of life,

  • from zero to one,

  • boy and girl babies basically survive at the same rate

  • because they depend upon the breast,

  • and the breast shows no son preference.

  • From one to five,

  • girls die at a 50 percent higher mortality rate

  • than boys, in all of India.

  • The second tenet of "Half the Sky"

  • is that, let's put aside the morality of all the right and wrong of it all,

  • and just on a purely practical level,

  • we think that

  • one of the best ways to fight poverty and to fight terrorism

  • is to educate girls

  • and to bring women into the formal labor force.

  • Poverty, for instance.

  • There are three reasons why this is the case.

  • For one, overpopulation is one of

  • the persistent causes of poverty.

  • And you know, when you educate a boy,

  • his family tends to have fewer kids,

  • but only slightly.

  • When you educate a girl,

  • she tends to have significantly fewer kids.

  • The second reason is

  • it has to do with spending.

  • It's kind of like the dirty, little secret of poverty,

  • which is that,

  • not only do poor people

  • take in very little income,

  • but also, the income that they take in,

  • they don't spend it very wisely,

  • and unfortunately, most of that spending is done by men.

  • So research has shown,

  • if you look at people who live under two dollars a day --

  • one metric of poverty --

  • two percent of that take-home pay

  • goes to this basket here, in education.

  • 20 percent goes to a basket that is a combination of

  • alcohol, tobacco, sugary drinks --

  • and prostitution and festivals.

  • If you just take four percentage points

  • and put it into this basket,

  • you would have a transformative effect.

  • The last reason has to do

  • with women being part of the solution, not the problem.

  • You need to use scarce resources.

  • It's a waste of resources if you don't use someone like Dai Manju.

  • Bill Gates put it very well

  • when he was traveling through Saudi Arabia.

  • He was speaking to an audience much like yourselves.

  • However, two-thirds of the way there was a barrier.

  • On this side was men,

  • and then the barrier, and this side was women.

  • And someone from this side of the room got up and said,

  • "Mr. Gates, we have here as our goal in Saudi Arabia

  • to be one of the top 10 countries

  • when it comes to technology.

  • Do you think we'll make it?"

  • So Bill Gates, as he was staring out at the audience, he said,

  • "If you're not fully utilizing half the resources in your country,

  • there is no way you will get anywhere near the top 10."

  • So here is Bill of Arabia.

  • (Laughter)

  • So what would some of the specific challenges

  • look like?

  • I would say, on the top of the agenda

  • is sex trafficking.

  • And I'll just say two things about this.

  • The slavery at the peak of the slave trade

  • in the 1780s:

  • there were about 80,000 slaves

  • transported from Africa to the New World.

  • Now, modern slavery:

  • according to State Department rough statistics,

  • there are about 800,000 -- 10 times the number --

  • that are trafficked across international borders.

  • And that does not even include those

  • that are trafficked within country borders,

  • which is a substantial portion.

  • And if you look at

  • another factor, another contrast,

  • a slave back then is worth

  • about $40,000

  • in today's money.

  • Today, you can buy a girl trafficked

  • for a few hundred dollars,

  • which means she's actually more disposable.

  • But you know, there is progress being made

  • in places like Cambodia and Thailand.

  • We don't have to expect a world

  • where girls are bought and sold or killed.

  • The second item on the agenda

  • is maternal mortality.

  • You know, childbirth in this part of the world

  • is a wonderful event.

  • In Niger, one in seven women

  • can expect to die during childbirth.

  • Around the world,

  • one woman dies every minute and a half from childbirth.

  • You know, it's not as though

  • we don't have the technological solution,

  • but these women have three strikes against them:

  • they are poor, they are rural

  • and they are female.

  • You know, for every woman who does die,

  • there are 20 who survive

  • but end up with an injury.

  • And the most devastating injury

  • is obstetric fistula.

  • It's a tearing during obstructed labor

  • that leaves a woman incontinent.

  • Let me tell you about Mahabuba.

  • She lives in Ethiopia.

  • She was married against her will at age 13.

  • She got pregnant, ran to the bush to have the baby,

  • but you know, her body was very immature,

  • and she ended up having obstructed labor.

  • The baby died, and she ended up with a fistula.

  • So that meant she was incontinent;

  • she couldn't control her wastes.

  • In a word, she stank.

  • The villagers thought she was cursed; they didn't know what to do with her.

  • So finally, they put her at the edge of the village in a hut.

  • They ripped off the door

  • so that the hyenas would get her at night.

  • That night, there was a stick in the hut.

  • She fought off the hyenas with that stick.

  • And the next morning,

  • she knew if she could get to a nearby village where there was a foreign missionary,

  • she would be saved.

  • Because she had some damage to her nerves,

  • she crawled all the way -- 30 miles --

  • to that doorstep, half dead.

  • The foreign missionary opened the door,

  • knew exactly what had happened,

  • took her to a nearby fistula hospital in Addis Ababa,

  • and she was repaired

  • with a 350-dollar operation.

  • The doctors and nurses there noticed

  • that she was not only a survivor,

  • she was really clever, and they made her a nurse.

  • So now, Mahabuba,

  • she is saving the lives

  • of hundreds, thousands, of women.