Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in Opportunity for Women Worldwide

half-the-sky-nicholas-kristof

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.

Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.

Authors: Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn

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Rating: 5/5

I had heard of this book before, but I finally picked it up as part of Emma Watson’s book club, Our Shared Shelf. I am so glad that I did. My eyes have been opened to so much more that happens in the world and to new ways we can actively make those things better. The balance between facts and figures and the stories of real people the authors have met during their humanitarian travels is perfect to keep you engaged and interested.

I think the biggest takeaway I got from this book was how important women’s education is to the development and improvement of the entire world. When you keep a girl in school, she is likely to wait until an older age to have children, and she is likely to have fewer children. This is good for everyone, as families can have as few or as many children as they are able to support. Plus, educated women will likely have earning and spending power, and when women make financial decisions, more of that money goes toward food and education for their children, keeping the cycle in check. Plus, it’s shown that societies that educate their women have greater respect for all and much less violence in general.

Then, once you’ve learned all that, the book goes one step further to help you figure out what you can do to make it happen.

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