Thursday, February 28, 2013

Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Published June 2010 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Source: the wonderful Nadia of A Bookish Way of Life

Publisher's Summary:
From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

My Thoughts: 
I've been wanting to read this book for more than two years. At the same time, I was terrified to read it, fearful that it would be overwhelmingly depressing.

When Nadia was talking about the book on Twitter, I mentioned that it was a book I'd like to read some time, and she was nice enough to send it to me.Still I was afraid to pick it up. In January, again on Twitter, I saw that some bloggers were getting together to make February Social Justice Theme Read month. It was the kick I needed to read this book.

Is is depressing? Yes, very much so. But it is also amazingly hopeful and incredibly thought provoking. I would defy you to read this book and not want to rush out and donate to every charity or organization working to improve the lives of women worldwide.

Kristof and WuDunn cover the many ways that women are oppressed (sex trafficking, honor murders and rapes, rape as an implement of war, maternal mortality, and the ways in which religion has impacted the lives of women in negative ways). They also explore the effect different types of aid impact the lives of those in need, explaining why some work so well while others fail so spectacularly. They certainly have opinions on which are the best ways the collective "we" can help but are able to provide ample evidence to support their conclusions.

Here are some of my takeaways:

1. Women are as much to blame as men in many ways, from brothel owners to mothers-in-law who   physically abuse their sons' wives.
2. We cannot allow political forces, particularly those formed by religion, to influence aid decisions.
3. What we think works in the United States doesn't necessarily work every where.
4. Thinking outside of the box is often the best way to help.

I may have more sticky notes in this book than any other book I've ever read (well, except for Ron Chernow's Washington). Have you read this one? I'd love to talk with you about it.

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