Have you ever heard the Chinese proverb, “women hold up half the sky?” While simple, it is a powerful phrase that when explored shows the power that women in this world should hold, but really don’t.
The Half the Sky movement started as a result of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (first married couple to win a Pulitzer by the way) who passionately call our world to action against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. The book illustrates how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. Although their book shines a light on the many obstacles girls and women face, that at this day in age should never have to face, Half the Sky also portrays the message of hope. We follow Kristof and WuDunn as they travel and meet extraordinary women struggling in Africa and Asia. We meet the Cambodian girl who eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon herself. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.
Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.
I have read the book twice now and am still amazed by the power it has to capture readers. If you want to “ACT BOLD”, Half the Sky is a must-read. These social justice issues are something that I believe every citizen should be well educated on, whether they choose to take action or not.
Also, make sure to tune in to PBS on October 1st and 2nd for the film Half the Sky, based on Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s novel.