Friday, August 02, 2013

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

If you write a book, especially a book on a matter of social justice, you hope it changes people. You hope it leads to direct action.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written such a book. I wish everyone would read it. I hope I will take as much action based on my reading of it as I am inspired to in the moments after finishing it.

The book is full of both statistics and individual stories. One worry the authors have--often if we hear about statistics, it dampens our giving. We are more likely to respond to support an appeal if it is to help an individual.

Since the oppression of women is such a large-scale, global problem, it is difficult to mobilize the world to action.

In the meantime, the oppression of women around the world continues at a scandalous pace.

Kristof and WuDunn are correct, we need a Half the Sky Movement.

Really, please consider reading the book right now:

Even if you don't have time to read the book, or you don't read books, there are actions you can take in the next ten minutes. The authors offer a final chapter outlining what they hope readers might do immediately after finishing the book. Here they are (excerpted from pages 251-252 of the book):

1. Go to or and open an account. Both sites are people-to-people (P2P), meaning that they link you directly to a person in need overseas, and this makes them an excellent way to dip your toe in. Many, many of the recipients of these micro-loans or gifts are women.

Global Giving lets you choose a grassroots project to which to give money in education, health, disaster relief, or more than a dozen areas around the developing world. Kiva lets you do the same for micro lending to entrepreneurs.

3. Sign up for e-mail updates on and a similar service, Both distribute information about abuses of women and sometimes advise on actions that readers can take.

4. Join the CARE Action Network at This will assist you in speaking out, educating policy makers, and underscoring that the public wants action against poverty and injustice. This kind of citizen advocacy is essential to create change. As we've said, this movement won't be led by the president or by members of Congress any more than their historical counterparts led the civil rights or abolitionist movements--but if leaders smell votes, they will follow. The government will act where our national interests are at stake; however, history has repeatedly shows that where our values are at stake, leadership must come from ordinary citizens like us.

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