Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

This was recommended to me by a friend on Dayre and woah it is such a powerful book! Half the Sky focuses on a section of human rights that the world is far too apathetic about - how half the world is being oppressed every single day. And this isn't just about "women's rights", it's about "human rights" because empowered women lead to a better society.

Warning: the many, many stories in this book will break your heart. So many women are being sold into sex trafficking and so many are being abused by their families (either directly or indirectly through neglect), leading to thousands of needless deaths.

But, these problems are solvable. Not by outsiders barging in, but by helping the women of each individual country help themselves. This may mean working with them, or it may mean staying behind the scenes and supporting women through the use of money. Or in other cases, pressuring governments to take things seriously. Each country requires a different solution and it's important to realise that (and not just do whatever we think is best).

Although this book is written to a Western audience, I think those of us in Asia can also learn a lot from it. After all, this is a global problem. And should this book touch on the more unsavoury aspects of your country, then you are in a place to take immediate action.

And seriously, it's a shame that things like sex slavery, FGM, fistula and maternal deaths are ignored because they are uncomfortable or because they involve poor women/do not directly involve men. Women are people too.

Things can change and they have to change. I really like this quote, that:
If we believe firmly in certain values, such as equality of all human beings regardless of colour and genders, then we should not be afraid to stand up for them; it would be feckless to defer to slavery, torture, foot-binding, honour killings, or genital cutting just because we believe in respecting other faiths or cultures. 
 Cultures can change and sometimes, they should. The last chapter is about things that you can do now, and there is a list of organisations you can donate to, like Kiva (microlending), or places you can sign up to get information from, like womensnews.org or worldpulse.com (if you belong to a Church or other faith group, you can also donate to your Church's/group's overseas programs because a lot of them do good work too).

In short, this book brings to light the very real and very serious dangers that tens of thousands of women face every day, as well as examples of programs that work (and those that don't), so you have an idea of what you can do to help. I recommend this to everyone, not just women, because this is a global problem, not a gender specific one.

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