When money is not enough: donor-sponsored gender development in the MENA and South Asia

Next month Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, and each family is expected to divide the meat from each sacrificial animal in thirds: one share is for the family, the second for friends and neighbors, and the third for the poor. As during Eid al-Fitr, celebrated last August, Muslim charity organizations will collect funds for donation to the poor and needy. Holidays like these invite us, whether we are Muslim or not, to reflect upon the meanings of global solidarity and the responsibility of those who have more to aid those in need. It is a shared message among the three Abrahamic faiths. This message is not lost on development agencies and organizations that routinely put these words into practice, particularly in the global south and in conflict-ridden nations. Yet the message that is obscured by such outpourings of charity and apparent goodwill is this: what do you do when it becomes apparent that years of pouring money into development projects has not done nearly enough to tip the balance of power and opportunity more definitively in the direction of the habitually disenfranchised?

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