Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Monday, April 18, 2016


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Kristof, and Sheryl WuDunn, 2009

Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a book about politics, in your country or another, fiction or nonfiction

Premise: Two New York Times journalists lay out the arguments why people should care about oppression of women worldwide and what people can do about it.

I wanted very much to enjoy this book, but while I think it is well written and deals with important subjects, it left me rather cold.

This book hasn’t been out for ten years yet and yet it feels dated. The biggest reason is that this is from before the largest spread of mobile and social media that has drastically changed communication and social movements across the globe. There’s a tossed off line near the end that implies that their case for girls’ education being a paramount solution (built throughout the book) may be a good tactic, but the spread of television may be as much or more effective. At the time the book was finished, they could only say: more research is needed about television. So what about the spread of the internet?

I also couldn’t even forget that, whatever their racial and cultural backgrounds and their empathy, the authors are journalists with the New York Times. Their attitudes about how people should travel to understand other cultures, occasional word choice around both personal stories and politics… these are people who come from a particularly privileged place, even within the US, and the narration just felt a smidge too pedantic and patronizing for me.

Also, at this point, anyone holding out hope for bipartisan support for anything, even global health issues, seems a bit naive.

All of that said, the personal stories are compelling, and the accounts of women and girls suffering because of social structures, lack of health care, obstruction at governmental levels, etc., are heartbreaking.

But I wanted to come out of this book inspired to help, and only got depressed. Despite the list of organizations at the end, I didn’t feel I’d gotten a current, accurate, feasible case for something concrete and beneficial to do.

2 Stars - An Okay Book

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