Half The Sky – Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide

This post is the third in a series of book reviews designed to share some of my better finds with readers. I bought Half the Sky thinking it would be a dry and somewhat preachy nonfiction read about the plight of women. It’s not.

Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn,  is a deeply disturbing book that somehow manages to disgust, inspire and move the reader to action at the same time.  The book is a thoroughly researched portrait of the systematic cultural suppression of women around the world on a scale that is virtually unimaginable to the average American. The authors confront the harsh realities of taboo topics such as female trafficking, fistula and AIDs epidemics, rape as a war tactic, honor killings, vaginal cutting, and blatant educational and economic bias. These topics are so foreign to most Westerners that our minds can only vaguely grasp the horror of the headlines coming out of Southeast Asia, Africa and other hotspots around the globe. This book gives those headlines names, faces and back stories that finally drive the true scope and horror of these headlines home.

Even so, the shock and disgust one feels when confronting the realities facing women around the globe are mitigated by the hopeful stories of heroic women who have devoted their lives to changing the status quo against all odds. The authors make a convincing argument that advances in women’s rights are inextricably tied to advances in human rights and that that these heroic women are the key to unlocking a better future for us all. Most importantly, the authors include an extensive “What you can do” section to help readers do more than empathize with the victims of the atrocities described in the book.

Much of the “how to help” section of the book describes the work of various charitable organizations that the authors saw in action during their research for the book. The list can be accessed through their website.

Kristof and WuDunn deserve our gratitude for their dedication to women’s  rights and by extension human rights.  Half The Sky is an enlightening work that draws much needed attention to the plight of women around the world while simultaneously serving as a rousing call to action.  I highly recommend that everyone pick up a copy of this phenomenal book.