Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Category: Political Science - Political Freedom & Security - Human Rights; Political Science - Political Process - Political Advocacy; Social Science - Women's Studies
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN: 978-0-307-26714-6 (0-307-26714-8)

Pub Date: September 8, 2009
Price: $34.00

How you respond to husband-and-wife Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book "Half the Sky" is likely to depend on two variables: what you think about activism in general and how you view activists from developed, western countries working to help the less fortunate in developing worlds. Some people see the latter as an unnecessary interference in third world matters, but I happen to think that wherever help can be obtained, that is where it must be sought!

In their book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" the authors argue that the key to economic progress in the world lies in unleashing women's potential. The book then goes on to provide scores of examples of women whose futures seemed bleak and yet, when they were given a helping hand, they rose to the occasion and pulled not only themselves out of dire poverty, but also their families and in some instances, the whole neighborhood! The authors titled their book after an old Chinese proverb that says "Women hold up half the sky." It's time that people around the world recognize the full implication of that wise proverb and work together to ensure that women everywhere are able to rise to their fullest potential so that we all can benefit from the contributions they will make to global society.

The book also provides helpful information on how to help oppressed women...

Here are some ways (borrowed from the Oprah.com)

Make girls smarter. Many pregnant women living in poverty don't get enough iodine, so their fetuses' brains do not develop properly. Their children routinely lose ten to 15 IQ points—particularly the girls, for reasons not fully understood. The solution: Iodize salt, at the cost of a couple of pennies per person per year. To contribute, go to Helen Keller International (HKI.org).

Support a woman's business. With a microloan of $50, a woman can start a business, producing income she can use to feed her children and send them to school. To make a loan, go to Mercy Corps (MercyCorps.org) or BRAC (BRACUSA.org), two groups helping women around the world.

Keep a girl in school. A girl who gets an education will have fewer children, earn more money, and be able to help her younger siblings. One excellent support program operates in Cambodia, where uneducated girls are at great risk of being trafficked into brothels. For $10 a month, you can keep a girl in school through American Assistance for Cambodia (CambodiaSchools.com), or for $13,000, you can build an entire school that will revolutionize life in a village forever.

If you don't have money to give, here are some ways yo can help them for free!
Join the Half the Sky movement.Spread the Word
The best way to fight poverty and injustice is to educate women and girls. All you have to do is log on to Facebook or your favorite social networking site!

GlobalGivingWatch This Video Watch
Never underestimate the power of a girl. Watch this video and e-mail it to everyone you know. Then, learn more about The Girl Effect.

Join the Half the Sky book clubStart a Half the Sky Book Club
At the heart of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book is the belief that women hold up half the sky—and that the injustices of the world can be stopped when all women and children are educated and empowered. Get discussion questions from Nick and Sheryl and more with Mercy Corps' book club.

Kristof and Dunn have put together a remarkable book, one that will surely be remembered as one of the most important books of the decade. Kristof has said that if the great moral struggle of the 19th century was the abolition of slavery and that of the 20th century racial equality, then that of the 21st century would be gender equality. The riveting story-telling, sobering statistics and practical will leave you with no choice but to sit up and pay attention...it's time to pick up the gauntlet and do our part for women, start by buying a copy (or two) of this game-changing book, I know you won't regret it!


karmic said...

Hey there Lotus, been waiting to hear your thoughts on this book, and I have to say am not disappointed, for you always bring a unique perspective and one that I have grown to respect and always look forward to.
I agree with you about the two variables you mention, and there is also one other aspect to why activism is indispensable. Far too often governments from the developed world spend far too much on wars and military aid. Not to say that wars can always be avoided, but not enough money is spent on developmental aid and even less is focused on women.
One can also affect change at the micro level, independently and to supplement what the govt does so IMHO activism is indispensable.
Kristoff along with others have been hammering away at this point about the key to economic and other progress being in unleashing the potential of women via their empowerment.
While stats have always brought this fact out before, did you find that the stories Kristoff and WuDunn write about, brought this point home in a much better manner?
Human interest stories are always remarkable but to tie them together in a context that brings the big picture home is not always done very well.
And thank you so much for sharing the links to charities that focus on empowering women, the ways to spread this timely message and your thoughts on the book.
I may not get to read this book, but am moved to do my small bit to help.
And that proverb is so apt too!
Please have a wonderful new year, and may it be one of joy, happiness, good things, good reads, and good health for you and your loved ones.

paddy said...

Hey lotus,

I was just writing about women issues on my blog. It is really nice to see that there is a lot of awareness for equal opportunity to women. You have just helped the cause with this post. Will link to this post .


Lisa Johnson said...

I haven't read the book, but I think that Oprah did a show about it. It's nice to know that there are small things that people can do to make a big difference.

Happy New Year to you and all the best in 2010! ; )

Anonymous said...

Opulently I to but I think the collection should have more info then it has.

Priya Shankar said...

Hi Lotus!

Stumbled across your blog and I love the books that you've reviewed on here. I'll definitely take a look at some those that I haven't read. You have a really unique blog!


Lotus Reads said...

Hi Priya and welcome! Thank you so much for your comment. I just took a peek at your blog and I cannot wait to bite into it more fully! At a glance I found your posts informative and very well written. I will be back!