A New York Times special issue report called “Saving the World’s Women” is one of the most compelling stories I have read about women’s double plight in the developing world: poverty and an oppressive male dominated society. In this report, the author tells the story of Saima Muhammad, from Lahore, Pakistan who was routinely beaten by her husband and ostracized from the entire family for not having produced a male child, until that is, she started a successful embroidery business through a microloan.

“Saima took out a $65 loan and used the money to buy beads and cloth, which she transformed into beautiful embroidery that she then sold to merchants in the markets of Lahore. She used the profit to buy more beads and cloth, and soon she had an embroidery business and was earning a solid income – the only one in her household to do so.”

I have sung the praises of Microlending and Microcredit for a long time now, many times in this very space, and how it changes the lives of women and girls in the developing world (and consequently the world at large).

The authors of this article go as far as to pronounce the protection of women and girls’ rights as the paramount moral challenge of our times.

“In the 19th Century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.”