In between reading trashy crime or catching up with the latest children’s release, I try to read something more challenging. ‘Half the Sky: How to Change the World’ certainly falls into this category. I found the book through the ‘other people who read this also bought…’ section on Amazon, which also contains some helpful reviews and information.
Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team, wife and husband Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof, this is not a light read! (I read a chapter at a time and then gave myself a break, to recover and reflect.) The book focuses on the stories of individual women across the world, their families and communities and serves to bring a spotlight on some difficult themes; sex trafficking, prostitution, poverty, war, violence, genocide... The premise of the book is that women are the key to bringing change, and only through striving for gender equality in the developing world can we really see some of these issues beginning to be resolved. The facts are stark; more women have been killed in all the wars in the last 50 years because they are women than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century combined. I do not think it is possible to read ‘Half the Sky’ and not be challenged. I was shocked and moved. I cried, I prayed.
Among the harrowing circumstances highlighted in the book, the stories of the women are those primarily of hope - amazingly inspiring women who have been able to turn their tragedies into real change for themselves and those around them. The book introduces us to women who could have easily been victims becoming victors. The book is informative, giving some insights into the politics and intricacies of some very complex situations, but in a very readable way. It’s also practical giving some ideas of how other people can help support the move for gender equality around the world.
This book should carry a warning ‘you cannot read this and stay the same’. I have been deeply challenged to do more, to strive more, to speak up more. I would highly recommend ‘Half the Sky’ and would make it compulsory reading for anyone who wants to help ‘change the world’!
Reviewed by Ruth Wells – youth worker from Bournemouth who blogs at http://ruthwells.wordpress.com/
You can find out more about the Half the Sky movement here.