Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is an amazing book, both for the issues it raises and for the hopeful and practical approach it takes to how these issues might be resolved, or at least improved upon. Each issue (such as slavery, obstetric fistulas, and maternal mortality) that they tackle receives two chapters. The first outlines the problem, its scope, challenges and many personal struggles. The second, usually shorter, chapter focuses on one person who has made headway in overcoming the problem. Sometimes these are men and women in the United States such as Harper McConnell who hasn’t returned yet from a study abroad session in the Congo, but gone on to start a school there. As often they are individuals such as Mukthar Mai who have grown up victims of the very injustices they are trying to change. They show that solutions are being found in the very communities where women struggling.
Just as you begin to feel that the scope of the problems some women face is too large, their examples offer hope and evidence that change can happen. Women’s issues are human rights issues that affect all people. When half a country’s resources are ignored, there is no way that country can truly succeed. This would be an excellent book group title as it is the type of book you read and want to share and talk about as well as want to find a way to get involved in fighting for change. The Half the Sky Movement website has become a place where people can continue to learn more and become involved in the issues the book raises. For more from Kristof and WuDun see their interview over at GoodReads.