by Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn
Original Publishing Date: June 2010
Length: 320 pages
Obtained via: Amazon
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.
Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.
At the beginning of the year, I wrote about how I was planning to participate in the Social Justice Theme Read, and I planned all along to read Half the Sky. I’ve heard a lot about this book from friends, all whom told me to read this book as soon as possible.
I’ve been reading mostly fiction lately, so it was a bit difficult for me to get back in the right frame of mind to read nonfiction, even though it’s one of my favorite genres. A journalistic work like Half the Sky is structured so differently than fiction books that it took me awhile to adjust, and for the first forty pages or so I was experiencing some pretty heavy dissonance. I was interested in the subject but having trouble concentrating on what points the authors were actually making, especially since they just dived right in to the subject matter.
Soon, though, I was able to really understand what I was reading and my heart was broken. This was a really necessary read for me, I think, to learn about what struggles women face across the globe. Some of the anecdotes that were shared crushed me to really think of what was happening to women across the world. Even though I’ve heard all the statistics, to hear actual stories and sometimes even see pictures of women who have endured horrible abuse really hit home.
This is a book everyone should read in order to gain a better understanding of the world. In most places, it’s an extremely balanced look at global issues and when the author’s biases come through, disclaimers are quickly made. It’s a very accessible book that sheds light on issues I didn’t even know were issues, but now that I do, I can’t ignore them.
In short, I’m really glad I decided to read these book, and I think it’s a book that would leave most people feeling the same way.
Final Impression: I would have liked a better frame of reference at the beginning of the book, but once I got about twenty percent in I was able to really get into the issues and stories that were being talked about. This book did a great job of sharing stories instead of just statistics and I think it would make an impact on most people. 4/5 stars.
The February 2013 Social Justice Theme Read is being held by Resistance is Futile.