Over twenty years ago I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation given by the CEO of the NGO the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) on the challenges of providing aid to Africa.
What impressed me then was the fact that they had come to the realization that they were failing miserably in their objectives because in part they had not recognized the cultural realities they were faced with. In attempting to teach the locals how to become better farmers they spent a lot of time and money on teaching new skills to the men only to find out later that the men did not work in the fields because culturally it was women's work. The men they paid to go to school never applied the new skills they had been taught and by in large the money they were paid, was wasted on themselves instead of their families.
Once CIDA came to the realization that they first need to understand the culture, they redirected their aid to the women and they discovered that not only did the women benefit form the training and the training salary, the money the women received made its way into the family in the form of food clothing etc. for the children! They and other aid organizations have learned that by helping the women they benefit the children because in many communities the women will ensure that their children are cared for (food clothing and education) whereas too many men will squander the money and skills.
The title may be insulting to some but the reality is that the future of not only Africa rests in empowering women. We males in our comfortable cultures need to recognize that women in most of the world are oppressed and in many case are little more than property. The fact that most women put their children first is undeniable and in too many cultures the man is little more than the sperm donor! I say to Freemasons, if we espouse the virtues of charity we should recognize the cultural realities of how charity is used and abused and take an active role in ensuring it gets to those who will help themselves and more importantly their children rise above poverty, disease and become educated.