Paradise Beneath Her Feet and Women the State, and Political Liberalization

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Paradise beneath Her Feet and Women the State, and Political Liberalization
By: Zenebech Mesfin

Paradise Beneath Her Feet by Isobel Coleman and Women, the State, and Political Liberalization by Laurie Brand are two very interesting books on women in the Middle East and North Africa that for the most part focus in on the roles and experiences women have in the economy, education and politics. Paradise Beneath Her Feet is truly a great find. Coleman touches base on many key issues that women in Islam experience. She brings some of these issues to a personal level, with antidotes of women she has met, some who have been the victims of crime in the name of Islam and others who have become respected in their communities for being
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Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank is often hailed as the architect of microfinance lending and has been praised around the world for his work and even awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2006. The concept of microfinance is to lend small portions of money to poor people who could not have otherwise acquired a loan from a regular bank. Microfinance banks give the poor a small loan with incredibly high interest rates in the hope that the borrower will create a business or some form of income creating venture to sustain themselves and pay back their loans. Not only is that person left with a way to support themselves, but it also creates jobs in the community. These banks have noticed that when the money was lent to a family through the woman of the household, it went a longer way than if the man of the household received the loan. Yunus has noticed even within the Grameen Bank that “Poor women [have] an amazing skill, the skill of managing a scarce resource.” (12) Studies have shown that if a mother is receiving income the first beneficiaries are her children. The effects of this are amazing, many communities have seen a rise in school enrollment and improved child survival rates because women are more likely to spend money on food for their children and health care than are fathers. There is a saying, “If you give a man a fish, he will eat
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