Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Why isn't this sexism?

Tony Campolo was the spiritual advisor to President Clinton. He came to Australia recently and praised an Australian charity called Opportunity International. This charity is run by Australian "faith-based organisations" and provides business loans for the poor in the Third World.

Well for some poor people, anyway. You see, the "faith-based" organisations decided in their wisdom to restrict the loans to women. Men are excluded.

Which is something of a problem, as the loans are an excellent way of providing employment. For instance, it's estimated that within four years 5% of the workforce in the Philippines will be employed through businesses set up by the loans. According to Tony Campolo,

"It's almost miraculous. I say 'almost' because it's so reasonable, so rational, so pragmatic that any thinking person will say, 'Of course, it will work. Why didn't someone think of it before?"

But why, Tony, would a rational, thinking person exclude men from the loans? Wouldn't giving men a chance to start up businesses help them to provide for their families? Wouldn't it help to give a positive direction to the competitive energies of men in poorer countries?

You have to question whether the "faith-based" organisations are really only motivated by a charitable instinct to alleviate poverty. They seem to want to combine charity with a hefty dose of liberal social engineering.

PS I decided to look up the charity on the internet. What I found is that the charity doesn't strictly exclude men, but does make 90% of its loans to women. The charity is part of an international group which had 487,105 loans for the year 2003.

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