Recommendation: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide

Ban Ki-moon once said, “Women hold up more than half the sky and represent much of the world’s unrealized potential”. Kristof and WuDunn’s book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, criss-crosses the globe exploring the nature and breadth of gender inequality–searching within the depths of human nature to shine light onto oppressions both great and small that serve to marginalize women across boundaries of culture, time, and geography.

As an American far removed from the extreme’s of poverty, it is difficult to grasp the enormity of this book’s need. From sexual trafficking and slavery in Cambodia, to honor killing in Afghanistan, to mass rape in Rwanda, to maternal mortality across the globe–gender inequality is simply too enormous an issue, there are too many complicated moving parts, it is too great a challenge….

Or is it?

Kristof and WuDunn have taken a unique approach to philanthropy. Instead of large-scale movements, instead of statistic laden calls to action (though they do provide such data), Kristof and WuDunn provide grass-roots stories with grass-roots opportunities to help.

Each issue is given a name. A woman whose life has been indelibly burdened by poverty, violence and despair. Each issue is given another name. Another woman who saw the burden and sought to change it, to heal it, to remove it. Then the most unexpected thing appears within the text, tangible and realistic opportunities to join the change–to be the change. From things as small as awareness, letter writing and social outreach to things as great as boarding a plane and traveling to the places across the world where change is needed most.

This is a book of unimaginable violence and heart breaking tragedy. It is also a book of astonishing hope and achievable dreams. Kristof and WuDunn have composed not only a remarkable text but also an exceptionally accessible call to action. It should be required reading of any student of humanity.

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