HALF THE SKY by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Sometimes the world’s problems can seem so vast and endless that we find ourselves feeling helpless and overwhelmed as to how to go about fixing them. This book is a start.

Husband and wife journalists and co-authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, have seen their fair share of suffering throughout the developing world, having reported largely on women’s issues for many years. They have taken examples of the brutality inflicted on women throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East, that they have personally seen and put it onto words, to form ‘HALF THE SKY’, a book that will open your eyes, pierce your heart, and inspire you to take action.

‘Half The Sky’ is a mouth piece for oppressed women around the world who share their all too common stories of suffering as a result of being female, and how they rose above despair and empowered themselves thanks to grassroots efforts that provided them with basic healthcare and education. Their powerful stories are guaranteed to move you.

While those of us (myself included) lucky enough to be born in the West sit back and bitch about our ‘first world problems’, our sisters in the developing world endure honour killings, genital mutilation, sex slavery, mass rape, infanticide, child marriage, acid attacks, fistulas/internal ruptures due to prolonged labours, and gender based beatings on a daily basis.

According to the authors, it’s not enough to simply feed the hungry, cure the sick and rescue the enslaved. The main message they deliver is that education and empowerment of women, is what is needed in order to achieve real change and end this injustice.

An educated woman knows her rights and is less likely to be trafficked or married off young, reducing her risk of maternal mortality, aids, or suffering from fistulas – a horrific condition that develops as a result of prolonged labour leaving the woman incontinent and often resulting in death if untreated.

Educated women are able provide income for their families and are more likely to send their daughters to school, ending the cycle of oppression and poverty. Also, more women in the work force means better economies and less stress on ‘mother earth’ due to fewer babies being born.

If you really want to change the world, then read this book. Not only will it inspire and stir something inside of you, but you will have a better idea where help is most needed and how to go about it.

You don’t need to join the Peace Corps or start a NGO to make a difference in the world, but if everyone chips in a little, collectively we can make a difference. It can be as simple sponsoring a child with education or a woman with job skills training. It only costs $25 a month to cover the cost of school fees for a young girl in Cambodia through FREE TO SHINE (www.freetoshine.org). This decreases her risk of being trafficked and sold to a brothel, as well as increasing her earning potential in the future.

As Zen Master Rama points out, “a species divided against itself will eventually fall.”  If mankind is to survive, the oppression of women around the world must end and equality of the sexes must prevail. This will only happen however, if we all stand up and do something.


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