Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Revelry Review: Half the Sky

I just finished a book that I have to tell you all about: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sherly WuDunn.

The book takes a look at several issues affecting women and girls in developing nations: rape, maternal mortality, lack of an education, lack of nutrition and prostitution. Instead of burying the reader in statistics, of which there are admittedly a few, the authors use individual stories to show how these women are affected.

Never before have I felt such a call to arms as I did while reading this book. I was a women's studies minor in college and I still did not learn everything that there was to learn from this book. I was particularly disturbed by the issue of fistulas, or injuries that women sustain during the birthing process that can give them permanent incontinence (which can lead them to be ostracized from their communities), the inability to walk, or even death. This injury is particularly common in young women and girls due to the smaller size of their pelvis. Additionally, the number of young women being trafficked as prostitutes and their inability to get out of the vicious cycle surrounding it was heartbreaking.

But this is not a book that wants to mire you in tragedy. Instead, the authors want you to learn what you can do to make the difference in the lives of women and children in some of the poorest places in the world. And they want you to know that women are the key to economic and social progress.

Kristof and WuDunn write, "The tide of history is turning women from beasts of burden and sexual playthings into full-fledged human beings. The economic advantages of empowering women are so vast as to persuade nations to move in that direction. Before long, we will consider sex slavery, honor killings, and acid attacks as unfathomable as foot-binding. The question is now how long that transformation will take and how many girls will be kidnapped into brothers before it is complete--and whether each of us will be part of that historical movement, or a bystander."

You can read more about the Half the Sky Movement here. Nicholas Kristof has a twitter account here and a facebook page here. Oprah covered this book here.

And here are a few organizations that the authors suggest getting involved with or donating to if you would like to help women and girls worldwide:

-Kiva (full disclosure: I used to be a volunteer translator for them and I have supported 8 women-owned businesses in Latin America through microloans. I think they're wonderful and you will too!)


Elizabeth said...

This sounds awesome. I can't wait to read the book.

stephanie alaine said...

i love your book review. will be placing a request at the local library right!

Melita said...

thank you for this review!