When women hold up half the sky…

April 19, 2011 at 3:39 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve been reading the book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.  They are a husband and wife team and  NY times reporters (and Pulitzer-prize-winning couple) , who have written a book on the oppression of women all around the world; focusing on human trafficking, slavery, prostitution, maternal health, education, rape and violence toward women and girls.  It is not an easy book to read as the material is often upsetting and depressing, but it is sort of a call-to-arms for men and women everywhere to become involved in these issues.  Americans often don’t take the time (or want to take the time) to understand how women are suffering worldwide. 

The Authors of Half the Sky

Even though I consider myself to be pretty well-educated in the above topics, there were still many surprises and disturbing discoveries in the material.  It’s hard to sit in my cushy little Hawaiian apartment, with a cup of warm tea in my hand, reading these stories of women experiencing the most atrocious things any human could ever envision.  I go through an enormous array of emotions when reading; I am angered, humbled, threatened, saddened, inspired and awed all in the span of one chapter. Though the content is often difficult to read, the writers have a wonderful way of bringing a vision of hope and love to the work.  Their heartfelt wish to see women succeed and overcome these traumas just leaps off the page and makes you feel moved to wonder what you can do to help. This type of information isn’t just for feminists; it is for everyone.  There is insane, unjust and horribly indescribable violence happening.  I call out to everyone to help in whatever way they feel they can; saying a prayer, donating money, being educated and active in the subject, volunteering time and energy, getting involved politically…whatever you can do to contribute to the end of this anti-woman violence.  This is a human rights issue, as is feminism.  But if you don’t want to claim the word, claim the action of a loving, sympathetic human that cannot stand for such violence to continue.

This book inspired me on many levels…even comprehending the atrocity these women have seen is beyond me; but to hear their triumphant stories of overcoming such huge obstacles really makes a person think.  It definitely shows how strong the human spirit is, how resilient…while at the same time proving how fragile life is.  The writers will relay a story that will leave you feeling traumatized and then save you by telling a redeemable, beautiful story about someone who has turned their tragedies into lifesaving projects, helping those that are unable to help themselves.  They often deliver data from different sources and key projects but manage to stay true to their roots as journalists by openly discussing the weak points in the information as well as what we need to learn from such data.   They consistently come back to the idea that grassroots organizations and education for women is the key to the social change needed to end this violence.  Again, the book is meant as a call to action.  It’s very intent lies in asking readers not only to be concerned, but to understand the harsh realities of life – the cruelty AND hope that these women face.  The authors ask that we simply choose a method of helping, be it large or small.

I think this book touched me in particular because for many years now, I’ve had a strong desire to help women.  I can’t really explain why.  Some people say they feel a calling…toward teaching, the ministry, to be a parent…I feel a calling to help women.  I’m not sure what form it is supposed to take yet.  Maybe it will be teaching, maybe it will be through counseling or social work, maybe it will be international work.  At this point, I’m ok with with waiting for the opportunity to present itself clearly to me.  In the meantime however, this book has encouraged me to stay focused on my ultimate goal: to make a difference, be it large or small.  So for that, I say a great big mahalo to Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.  Well done, and I’m on board.  🙂

**Half the Sky Official Website**


**Video of the authors discussing women’s rights**


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