Half the Sky

I don’t have nearly as much time to read for pleasure as I wish I did. So when I do have a free moment, it’s always nice to find a book that is both informative and enjoyable. Half the Sky definitely met both criteria.

Half the Sky discusses some of the most serious human rights problems for women today: forced prostitution, honor killings, maternal mortality, and the lack of education and economic empowerment. It does so both by giving the broad context and by discussing individual cases in which women have managed to succeed despite all odds, and the effect they have had on their community. The book was realistic without being unduly depressing. The authors make no attempt to sugarcoat the issues or overstate the effectiveness of various aid strategies– on the contrary, they provide several cautionary examples of good intentions gone wrong.  But the overall tone is upbeat, and the conclusion is very clearly that something can be done.

I didn’t fully agree with the authors throughout (such as in their comments defending Bangladesh sweatshops), but I thought that they were quite successful in giving a balanced presentation of the issues at stake. I also loved that they included a list of relevant organizations in an appendix at the back! This is a book I definitely recommend.

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