Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide This is a book every woman should read (and then hand to the men in your life). Pulitzer-winning authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn succeed in the difficult task of informing us of some of the world’s worst ills against women and girls, without sending us into complete depression. A significant portion of the book describes hope in action.
Half the Sky calls us to pay attention…to notice and not turn away because the subjects are difficult. Too many of the daily trials women face, slip under the radar—even though, as the Chinese proverb says, “Women hold up half the sky.”
Kristof and WuDunn tell the stories of real people: the injustices as well as some successes.
An idea of some of the issues they cover in Half the Sky:
- Human trafficking/forced prostitution (An issue that pulled at my heart; so I now write for A21 Carolinas, an affiliate of the A21 Campaign.)
- Rape as a weapon for submission—whether for sexual slavery; to compromise and shame a girl/woman into marriage; or to intimidate those who challenge social customs of subservience
- Practice of throwing acid in a woman’s face if she rejects a man, or a man wants to get rid of his wife
- Gender discrimination: in poor families (particularly in certain developing countries) girls often aren’t vaccinated; don’t receive medical care or the same amounts of food as their brothers. Also there are many sex-selective abortions
- How both men and women absorb cultural norms and accept customs harmful to women
- Women’s health: how many die in childbirth or have horrific complications like fistulas, which often result in stigmatization by their communities.
Kristof and WuDunn state the best way to combat poverty is to empower women. Here are a few of their suggestions in how this can be done:
- Promote teens and college students to see the world firsthand. To volunteer. It’s thought they will be more likely to stay abreast and involved in issues they have witnessed or can relate to in countries they’ve been, and later do something about it.
- Support local women’s endeavors
- Skills training
- Women’s health
- Promote awareness
- Educate yourself
- Facebook, Twitter, talk to your friends about whatever issues matter most to you. (Never know, even if you can’t become actively involved, they might).
- Know the warning signs and pass them on
- As many as 17,500 are trafficked in the States each year. So, it’s here..not just in other countries.
Sheryl WuDunn gives a great talk on TED about Half the Sky. This is an important book for our time!
If you’ve read this book, what did you think of it? How do you handle reading difficult subject matter? Which, if any, of these issues speak to you?