Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2013/08/half-sky-turning-oppression-into.html
The title of this book, Half The Sky, is from a quote from Mao Tse-Tung. He said, "Women hold up half the sky." It is generally interpreted as a recognition of the power and place of women in our civilization. This book speaks about the oppression of women around the world. It does not address each and every issue of women's lives around the world. It focuses on three particular issues - prostitution and the sex trade; violence against women including rape and honor killings; and mortality in childbirth.
Turn by turn, the book addresses each issues with story upon story of the atrocities around the world. Meena who was kidnapped at age eight and sold in the sex trade. Kalma who was gang raped ten days after giving birth. Prudence who died in childbirth because of an untreated infection. And so many more.
The book also has stories of success - of women who helped themselves and those around them, of individuals who went in from the outside to help, and of organizations that work tirelessly to bring about change. Neth who was rescued from a brothel and found a life beyond. Usha Narayne who stepped forward as a leader in her home in the slums of India. Sakeena Yacoobi who runs the Afghan Institute of Learning. Ann Cotton, a Welsh woman, who founded Campaign for Female Education to help girls in Africa. And so many more.
Within the context of these stories, the book describes broader patterns and concepts. The role of religion to incorrectly justify violence. The change required in cultural paradigms. The impact of supporting grassroots movement versus outside aid.
Finally, the book issues a call of action with specific recommendations of how any person anywhere can be a part of the solution. To support the call to action, the book was made into a PBS movie and now finds its home at the following website: http://www.halftheskymovement.org.
A book full of information about a critical topic. It is not an easy book to read - with the number of stories, the amount of information, and the seriousness of the topic. I had to gradually make my way through it, but I am glad I did.
I think if I wasn't educated about the empowerment of education of women I would like the book. However, chapter 12 and the support of sweatshops as a tool for empowering women bothers me. Clearly the authors don't realize that sweatshops come in make money and then leave.
With that said, the book is good if you don't know anything about what is going on in the world concerning women. If you do know about the inequalities facing women around the world then don't bother.