Half The Sky – Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide

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.

Ripples from the Zambezi – Economic Development from the Bottom Up

In Ripples from Zambezi, the author, Ernesto Sirolli, turns the top down model of grand economic development on its head. Instead, his focus is on nurturing the passion and creativity of individuals.

The title comes from Sirolli’s early experiments in economic development in rural Africa, where he worked as a foreign aid worker for the Italian government. The beginning of the book details his experiences in Africa and the ideas that those failed experiments planted in his mind.

From that experience, he learned firsthand the damage traditional top down development models could do and made it his life’s work to find a better way to build local economies. He later discovered that the ideas that germinated in Africa applied to Western economies, too.
Sirolli’s approach builds on the theories of E.F. Schumacher, A.H. Maslow, Carl Rogers and others. The fundamental concepts underpinning Sirolli’s work include:

– A belief in the intrinsic goodness of human nature.

– If people don’t ask for help, leave them alone.

– There is no good or bad technology to carry out a task – only an appropriate or inappropriate one. Something big, modern, and expensive is not necessarily best; it all depends on the circumstances.