Thursday, August 12, 2010

Half the Sky

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Vintage Books, 2009
254 pages
Non-fiction; Feminism
5/5 stars

Source: Bought (with my first paycheck from my summer job!) because I'd heard good things about it

Summary: Short chapters talk about some of the oppression currently experienced by women such as sex trafficking and maternal mortality and are interspersed with chapters sharing how it's being fought.

Thoughts: My readings of Larsson's books are actually connected as they featured sexual abuse of women and sex traffickers. That was purely accidental on my part but I like that they connect.  Saying that, this was a tough reading week because of the horrible stories shared.

Nearly every page has an example of women being abused and undervalued, which would be almost unbearable if it had not been accompanied by some of the most uplifting stories.  These stories share failures and how they learned from those failures.  Any effort by Westerners to sweep in and radically remake the culture usually failed but talking and listening helped.  Most successful was giving funds directly to determined individuals to help them help themselves.

Something Kristof and WuDunn highlighted was encouraging Western (especially American) students to travel abroad as a volunteer in order to remind them of their own privileges and make them in to activists who can change the world.  I think this is an exciting time for that (rather my) generation.  We have a big problem to confront and if we put our considerable abilities and advantages to it, we could make a big change.

This book made me angry because so-called women's issues are consistently shunted aside as not mattering although it's pretty obvious that getting women involved leads to a stronger economy  and a more successful country; it saves lives and improves the quality of life.  It also inspired me to get involved. 

I want to leave you with the links to some of the websites highlighted in this book and encourage you to check them out.  I've spent some time on them and I'm currently evaluating my finances to see where I can be most helpful (they're all linked so just click through):

Global Giving
Kiva (Possibly familiar to long-time users of hulu)
Women's eNews
World Pulse

and not mentioned in the book but my friend shared a petition against sex trafficking which I invite you to sign. Its focus seems to be US but other countries are represented.  I signed it and I've been sharing it with others.

Cover/Title: I love the title, coming from the Chinese proverb "Women hold up half the sky" and I like the mix of faces on the cover although my paperback only has one row with different faces.

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