How I Got Stuck for Women Around the World

DAY THIRTEEN – Sticky! What stuck with you? In 2011, what book that you read, film that you saw, song that you heard (or whatever is your preferred sensory experience) really stuck with you? The kind of thing where you keep thinking about it.

Over the summer in 2011 I read the book Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It was UMD’s First Year Book of 2010 and a ton of my TVM gals recommended it. I was in the mood for something empowering so I delved right into it.

Wow. Talk about getting stuck. This beautifully written book tells the stories of women around the world who were oppressed but took it upon themselves to turn it around and make a difference. You can’t help but want to become involved after reading this book.

Here is the book description, taken from

From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl 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. 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. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.

Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.

When I was reading this book, I felt angry. Angry at the fact that women are still being treated this way. Angry that after all this time, women are still treated as second-class citizens in many parts of the world. Angry that women cannot even get the proper care they need to bear children and raise them safely. Angry with what some countries are getting away with.

So how do you channel that anger? Kristof and WuDunn offer a ton of resources, both in the book itself and on their website, where you can help. Though I have yet to make a contribution, I’m hoping I can do something more in 2012.

About Rowena Winkler

Passionate Performer, Speaker and Writer by Calling, Dancer of All Good Beats, Yoga Practitioner and Enthusiast, Spiritual Trustee of the Universe, Traveler of Many Distant Lands, Lover of Derek the Logical but Amiable, Mother of Eponine/Dex/Teyla, Architect of Spoken Word Poetry, Trainer in the Craft of Communication, Unapologetic Individual, First of Her Name.
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