“Women are powerful agents of development,” says Betsy Teutsch in her new book 100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Global Women’s Empowerment. “Investing in low-income girls and women is not just a moral imperative; it is excellent policy for poverty alleviation.”
That’s because of the “Girl Effect,” which says girls and women are better at lifting themselves and their families out of poverty than men and boys. Women tend to spend more family wealth on productive things like education and health. And their education has a catalyzing effect: Each year of schooling increases incomes by 10 to 25%, studies show.
Teutsch introduces us to a wide range of tools and approaches that help prevent hunger and illness, improve sanitation and schooling, that expand opportunity, and that curb abuse and violence against women. Each idea is explained in detail, with bullet-points of positive and negative aspects and even suggested actions for readers.
Readers of this site will know some inventions already. For example, there are well-known projects like the Embrace infant warmer and the Wello water carrying wheel. Others may be less familiar. For instance, she describes the Solar Ear, a cheap hearing aid powered by solar batteries, a vinegar-based cervical cancer screening tool, the Zimba automatic chlorine doser, the Solvatten water heater from Sweden, Rainsaucers (a rain harvesting device), keyhole gardens (allowing gardening without bending down), an insecticide fused paint, and the Lucky Iron Fish Project (aimed at reducing iron deficiency).
There are sections on finance (including products like microinsurance and microfranchising) and more generic chapters on the importance of breast-feeding, mobile phones and contraception. Teutsch also describes how the technologies can be used in combinations: for instance, how women can grow food in a keyhole garden made of bottle bricks and fertilized by human urine.
Teutsch does acknowledge that technical solutions don’t solve everything. Women face persistent discrimination, particularly in poor countries; a new water-saving device isn’t going to do much for that. She therefore also includes a chapter on legal tools, including ways to stop forced marriages and sex trafficking, and secure land and inheritance rights.
It’s a complete package, full of ideas, covering everything from building materials to low-cost birthing kits. The book goes on sale in March. Order it here.