Mark’s #15 – Half the Sky:Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (320 pages)

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

It has been said that the most dangerous sentence in the world is, “It’s a girl.”  Sex selective abortions, sexual slavery, economic and personal oppression, abuse, neglect, and centuries of cultural ‘norms’ have made the oppression of women, particularly women in the developing world, a tragic norm.  In a day of breaking headline news, by in large these atrocities go unnoticed, unreported, and unaddressed across the globe.  Journalists Nicholas D. Kristof  and Sheryl WuDunn have sought to be a voice for the voiceless as they shine light on these dark corners of our world. 

This book exposes heart-wrenching realities, challenges individuals, governments, and cultural norms to get informed, establish policies, and shift thinking for the good of women and ultimately for the good of families, communities, nations and the world.  Indeed, a primary argument in the book is that we all benefit in a society that elevates women and provides new opportunities and freedoms to these women.

This is an important book with a very wide swath.  Kristof and WuDunn have attempted to present a comprehensive view of these problems and possible strategies for their remedies.  Along the way, the authors both criticize and affirm the strengths and weakness of both conservatives and liberals, people of faith and secular humanists (though, at times it seems they give Islam a pass while overly criticizing global Christians). We would all do well to read this book, investigate its claims, determine a personal action plan, and begin pursuing the cause of oppressed women worldwide.

My one minor critique is that the authors sometimes put forth programs such as Kiva.org and Greg Mortensen’s educational efforts as effective means of elevating the cause and status of women in the developing world. In both cases, there are some serious concerns, with evidence that these examples can often add to the oppression.

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