A recent poll I stumbled upon via UN News Wire asks readers what they thought was the most important lesson learned from the 2010 UN Millennium Development Goal Summit and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual meetings, which took Manhattan and the world by storm last week.

The answer? With an overwhelming 46+ percentage of the vote, the answer is that women and girls are the solution to development. Being a woman, especially one interested in development and international politics, one would think I would jump for joy at such a realization by the international community. But I remain straight faced, neither elated or impressed.

As inspiring as it may seem to be the singled-out gender by leaders in development, should we accept that women are the only answer to development in the Global South? Evidence has shown tremendous changes in societies and regions which have embraced the Grameen Bank micro-finance model, which asserts the intellectual and business capacity of women to the front line. Money in the hands of women: proven to be a positive endowment for the rest of the community, as funds trickle to feed the children and the ill within each local society. This is incredibly true.

It is essential that women and young girls are inherently integrated into development models throughout all countries and systems- including the West! But, do polls such as these or verbose statements made by our heads of state, put too much pressure on women in the developing world? Consider me a feminist, but I can not help but be frustrated by the pressure placed on women to single-handedly carry development in their local communities. I would like for a more egalitarian perspective that reviews ideas of men attributing positively to development as well. If there are problems in men contributing positively, then let’s also work on the social dictations that convince us men and boys only perpetuate war. Let us work towards not only burdening women with such a task but also recognizing they are the gems of war torn societies. Therefore respecting their bodies, their ideas and their contributions. After all for a more sustainable process, shouldn’t the role of sexes and gender at some point coincide?

And if this egalitarian look is too irksome, progressive or idealistic for you, then let’s consider more rewards, incentives and support programs for women in developing nations– as they seem to be carrying much of the weight of the third world on their shoulders. With such a large task at hand, I would think they deserve the largest support system available.

More perspectives on this issue:

Empowering the Voices of Women to Appease the MDGs

Africa: Women and Children the Focus of Achieving MDGs

By Anita Issagholyan

Photo attributed to: DFID – UK Department for International Development 

Written by Anita Issagholyan