Women hold up half the sky – Chinese proverb.
Half the Sky could be the one of the most important books you will ever read.
Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, a married couple who also won the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement for their work chronicling human rights in Asia, Africa and the developing world, take you through Africa and Asia to meet some extraordinary women. Among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth.
The book is neither a sermon nor guilt trip. Instead it focuses on individual case stories the authors have experienced during their work in Asia and Africa and also features story’s of the individual Westerners from retired teachers to school children who felt they had to help.
Half the Sky will be a brutal awakening of your understanding of the world. You may have difficulty getting through some of the chapters describing the cruelty that mankind is capable of but soldier on and discover stories that stand as inspiring testaments to women’s courage, resilience, and their struggle for hope and recovery.
Consider the young teenage girl that the author, in a later interview, found having her virginity auctioned in a small village outside Phnom Penh. Instead of helping her, the police were there to ensure that if she escaped she would be returned to her owners.
Learn how the world is in the grip of a massive moral outrage equal to, if not more than, the despairing scale of the African slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries or the genocides of the 20th. Just take a moment to digest that.
This phenomenon is largely hidden, invisible to most of us and passing relatively unreported. At worst it is actively tolerated; at best it is ignored.
Today’s human suffering is not in the trade of African people, but of women. Every day the equivalent of five jumbo jets’ worth of women die in labor. Every ten seconds a girl somewhere in the world is pinned down, her legs pulled apart and part of her genitals cut off, usually without anesthetic.
Start using the word ‘gendercide.’ It’s real and it’s happening now.
As you move through Half the Sky you’ll come to face a terrible reality about the world we live in – but the book also provides light and hope that we can, in fact, make a difference and change it.
You’ll learn how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad a lot. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that now supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.
Meet the women who tackle unimaginable challenges with breathtaking bravery. You’ll cry with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.
Then there’s the women who from their hometowns in the USA and Britain have helped to build hospitals in Africa. The women who have left their countries behind and have headed straight to the front line to save lives plus those leading a revolution in thinking from their laptops.
They are all real. These stories are happening now.
You will not want to put Half the Sky down. But once you do, you may find you join with hundreds of other readers who can no longer be bystanders. If you’ve ever wanted to change the world, start here.
Have you read Half the Sky? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.