Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Report – Half The Sky

By Nicholas D. Kristof and Cheryl Wudunn

I spent most of this weekend at the hospital. Not because I was sick, but b/c I was volunteering for research. Sound ick? It was a bit actually. I spent 3 days giving blood, doing breathing tests (I’m asthmatic, that was what the study was about) and doing a bunch of other tests. The middle day had loads of wait time. I had to inhale something that would trigger an attack, then wait various intervals of time for them to gauge my lung capacity and breath force. Towards the end of the day, I was giving one big lungful of breath through a tube, then having to wait an hour to do it over again. So! I read a whole book!

If I am recalling it accurately, I do believe I first learned of this book off the “A Thousand Sister’s” fb page. It was touted as a must read, so I reserved it at the library and had it in my hands a week later. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. (I’m the type who will rent movies or get books based on recommendations – I tend not to watch previews. Thus, I am often very surprised by content – both good and sometimes not so great)

The sub title on the front cover is “Turning oppression into opportunity for Women worldwide”. It covers many extremely difficult topics. Some I was vaguely familiar with, others I had heard about, but didn’t really know what was involved and then others that I was actually surprised about – b/c I had no clue the issue existed.

Consider the cost of allowing half a country’s human resources to go untapped. An African proverb states – “If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; if you teach a girl, you educate a community” The issues discussed in this book have for too long been just referred to as “Women’s Issues”. However, they do not only affect women. There are entire cultures that are involved in the imbalanced view that women are somehow less valuable than men. Weren’t we all created equal? A Chinese proverb states that women hold up half the sky.

This book covers issues such as child trafficking for the sex industry, rape, honour killings, Female genital cutting, beatings, child marriage, maternal mortality and others. Tying in with psychologist findings stating that people will have a greater capacity to care when they are introduced to individuals, the authors pull in story after story accompanied by photos of the girls & women we are told about. The stories are disturbing and this is not a light hearted read by any extent. The conditions described are beyond sad. However, there is light.

This book is also full of HOPE! While so many of the stories of these individuals do not suggest anything good may exist in the midst, it really does. For each of these oppressive journeys, we are also meeting so people who have come along side them. Many of these people are exactly like you and me. They read something, or saw something that moved them to action. Many of these things started small, but gradually grew. Mahatma Gandi was quoted “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

There are men & women who have dedicated themselves to freeing women in this world. Change is slow – especially when entire cultures are involved, but baby steps are worth celebrating. And, for the women who have been helped, their lives are forever changed for the better.

Women are being empowered to stand up for themselves, learn their rights and a skill. Countries that have embraced this are thriving.

This book explains approaches that have been effective, and reflects upon those that have not been so much. Simple things such as iodizing salt and providing de-worming for school children results in increasing IQs by 10 points! Providing school uniforms seems to result in girls staying in school at least a year longer. All of these things have a positive ripple effect in a community.

I really wish I could paraphrase the whole book. Sadly, I can’t do that. I do strongly urge you to look for it though. I snagged this copy from the library, but I do intend to purchase my own copy. There were bits I wanted to underline & write margin notes on. Libraries frown on that.

The book concludes with so much information on how to get involved. There are websites for each of the groups mentioned. I am in the process of exploring these groups. Again, as I said in a previous post, I know I cannot give to them all. I must pick, but educating myself can go a long way too.

No comments:

Post a Comment