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Book Review Half The Sky

Updated on September 3, 2012

How Important Is Half The Sky?

I have to admit, until the last couple of days, I have been too absorbed in my own life (working, blogging, and puppying 101) to have noticed much about this book - Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. I missed its many celebrity endorsements as well but finally it popped into my email sent by a friend, leading me to his blog about it on Huffington Post. In reading his post, then researching it further, it set me to thinking and thus writing. Now it is on my 'to purchase' list for tomorrow when I hit town. Just by reading the reviews of this book and its history, I can see that this book has the potential to change society/the world we live in and isn't that about as important as you can get?

Public Domain photo
Public Domain photo

I probably will come back and do a book review after I finish reading it but from the sounds of this book, it probably won't take me long to be posting a review! Everyone who is reading this book says that it is profound and that it shows how we as 'regular people' can actually make a difference in the world; how we can individually elevate women to the level that they should be throughout the world, no matter what country, no matter what race - to become equals.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote this book after their travels through Africa and Asia in particular and depict the plight of several women graphically in their masterpiece. Yet, from all accounts, instead of being a book of tragedies and atrocities done to women detailing their sufferings, it is by all accounts instead a book of hope and a testimony to what can be done when awareness is raised and the veil of oppression is lifted. The women portrayed in the book went from being victims of their environment and of their society to being pivotal people who will go on to bring more and more change to the world they live in. Instead of being beaten down, they rose up and became better. The became role models in the truest sense of the world. Oh what our society could do with a GOOD or DECENT role model!

Abuse on any level is hard to deal with but the oppression of women has been going on far too long and in this 'modern' world, we owe it to the space we occupy to dig in, become aware, DO something as the book challenges us to do. In whatever way we can we need to fight for women's human/civil rights. In small or large ways, whatever is possible, we need to give something back. Just by the luck of the draw, we all as men and women are privileged to own that commodity that is so precious - FREEDOM. We did not earn it ourselves nor did we 'deserve' it in any sense of the word but simply by our birth and where we live, we have it.

For those other people in the world not so free, the other women of the world who do not have the rights we do, those children that are being brought into such devastating circumstances through no fault of their own - we owe it to them to stand for them. Where there is inequality or abuse of women, we owe it to them to stand up and at the very least speak out; at the very most contribute - in whatever way we are able. Change only comes about when people band together for a common cause and when they allow themselves to see the bigger picture.

This book is a very definite wake up call to the people of all societies to end the violation of human rights in this case especially against women - any woman - in any country on any given day. Think of all the female children that are being lost every hour to unspeakable cruelty, to violence, to sex slavery, to abject poverty. And why? Simply because they were born female. It is high time we faced the fact that women have been living in this kind of horror since the 17th century - and here we are in the 21st century. Haven't women suffered long enough? Isn't it time we all as men and women who live in a free society let our voices be heard and make a difference? I have to believe it is possible to turn a negative to a positive outcome.

I am a concrete person and I like the idea that at the end of the book, Kristof and WuDunn give us the tools to begin to do something; to make a difference in a tangible way. I am all for anything that will stem the brutal treatment of anyone or anything on this earth. I also think it is about time we turned away from our obsession with celebrities and their petty and self-inflicted 'woes' and focused on something that might actually matter in the world! Why is there so much focus on things we cannot change or have no possible way of making a difference in by knowing about it? Why are we fixated on Tiger Woods' miserable mess while there are women struggling to stay alive in another part of the world? Why do we absorb ourselves with things that over the course of time will not matter a hill of beans?

A prime example of change is looking at China and how they learned from their oppression of women. Not to say that their society is perfect, but at least they have made progress along the lines of women's human rights. Girls/women are encouraged to go to school, become educated and be part of the economy. In most countries, bringing women into the mix solidifies not only the economy because of their great contributions to the work force, but having the 'female factor' generates different value systems. Women in positions of authority are much more apt to recognize and work towards the ideals of peace, betterment of society as a whole, eradication of disease and ways to address the future needs of its people. The female factor can never be discounted as without it, I feel we would be all run over by a bunch of neanderthals.

Men especially probably can cause a loud roar and their support in this cause of salvaging the rights of women globally cannot be underestimated. The more men that DO value women and their input in ALL walks of life, the better. The more women are seen as vital to our success as a global community, the more inroads women will make towards equality. A very simple way to contribute to upholding the human rights and dignity of women is to support the women that make a difference, that contribute to society as a whole, the women who give unstintingly of themselves for the betterment of everyone. Respecting women for all their many attributes and diversity of thought is the beginning of change. Believing women can and do make a difference is as well in the words of MasterCard 'priceless'.

Women do make a difference in almost every aspect of life and thankfully, most of us who live in a free country do not face the overwhelming odds that women in other countries do. We women of freedom have privileges that women around the world could not even dream of. I think we owe it to our 'sisters' around the world to at the very least read this book, then pass it on to several people, men AND women, and then together, strive for more awareness, more change, and more expansiveness of mind. Slavery was a blight on the hands of many and how tragic that the misdeeds being done to women are not being taken to task immediately and brought to a screeching halt.

Hope springs eternal and I will continue to believe that as a society, as a world united, we can and will be able to change history. It would be wonderful to be a part of something so powerful and so 'righteous' as participating in restoring human rights. READ THE BOOK and decide for yourself if you can join the ranks!


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