Women around the world

Thank you for the outstanding special report ``The neglected resource: women in the developing world,'' by Kristin Helmore [Dec. 17-23]. The tone of the series is most remarkable to me. Nowhere is clarity compromised for emotional expression. The writer's empathy and tenderness toward her subjects shine through. Sabina Zolte Director, Parent Aide Buffalo, N.Y.Community Effort The writer has taken women of the developing world out of the dry columns of United Nations statistics and brought them vividly to life! Her portrayals of these women and their day-to-day lives awaken the kind of concern that must always precede and support successful drives to reverse attitudes -- to ameliorate wrongs. Mary Ann Newman Boston

As a former worker in rural Africa, I read with interest the ``Wives and mothers'' installment on third-world women.

Helmore points out, quite accurately, that the machismo of many third-world men is a big obstacle to improving the lot of their female counterparts. She also points out, however, that an increasing number of third-world men also want to limit the number of children they have. I am surprised she did not mentioned the potential of the Billings method of natural family planning. This method has been successfully mastered by third-world women, even illiterate women, and involves no side effects, no supplies or other costs, and no contradiction of nature. Christopher O'Connor S. Amboy, N.J.

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Having been involved in several governmental educational projects in Kenya, I can assure you that the statistics for illiteracy in Kenya are gravely incorrect [Dec. 17]. I contacted the educational officer at the Kenyan Embassy, who confirmed my opinion. The number of illiterate women in Kenya is 43 percent, and of men 35 percent. J. G. Donders Kenya University of Nairobi

The writer has done an extraordinary job of weaving together the lives of women from all over the world and the problems they share. One hopes it will educate US readers, as well as donor agencies whose continuing support of women will be critical in years to come.

One concern of ours is the negative impact of the world economic crisis, not only on women themselves, but also on third-world governments which will continue to cut programs in order to service their debts. This is likely to put women in competition with men for ever scarcer resources. Karen White Washington International Center for Research on Women

I have only one objection, and that is your use of the word mankind in the final article. Couldn't you have used the word humankind or some other general locution instead? The use of masculine terms as universal terms for the human race continues to oppress women in a subtle way. Martha Avery San Francisco

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