Travel Log #11: “Holding Up Half the Sky” By Madeleine Harder. Venice, Italy

Half the Sky is a narrative of short stories gathered around the common topic of women’s oppression worldwide. Chapters vary in issue from human trafficking to education to rape; these are not easy topics to handle even though I have had many discussions in my previous schooling about such issues. I actually found the book hard to read because the issues were stated so simply—these are incredibly complex and deeply rooted in cultures but was treated with one dimension in this text. I almost felt that the book didn’t correctly portray these issues using such simple language. As Americans, we don’t like to read about vulgar things but these issues are happening and we cannot hide that fact. My hope was that this text would be eye opening to me but I found that no new information was presented, in my case at least.

I found a story in the beginning of the book very interesting; one boy dedicated a large portion of his primary schooling years to raise money in order to fight forced labor. Zach Hunter started a Loose Change to Loosen Chains campaign from his home halfway across the world in Atlanta. However this was only the beginning of his journey and he soon started doing other things to raise money and awareness for modern women’s slavery. This young child ended up raising a ton of money and is helping to solve a problem that does not personally affect him. This passion for others and different perspectives is how complicated problems get solved. Social entrepreneurship is talked about in this book as well as stricter legal regulations. The problem with stricter legal regulations is that they are not always enforced but social entrepreneurship works to change the norms and customs of cultures that have the mistreatment of women so deeply ingrained in them. Only after attitudes have been changed, can the laws be tightened and results actually seen from these new regulations.

Prior to going abroad I took a class for my international business minor titled Global Entrepreneurship. In this course we learned about many different models of businesses but the focus was on social entrepreneurship and driving change. We did case studies on companies from around the world that worked to fix a problem with a sustainable business model (i.e. not non-profit organizations). On a weekend trip to Hamburg I took I caught a glimpse of a company that we profiled and got incredibly excited. When I tried to explain to the people I was traveling with what the organization does they seemed a lot less interested but nonetheless I stopped to talk to the lady at the information center about what the company had done in the German market as well as to thank them. While this company did not do anything to help the mistreatment of women (they focused on acclimating the visually impaired into society and showing the population with perfect eyesight what it would be like to live without their vision) I respected their contribution to society. Social entrepreneurship is incredibly important to solving all of the world’s problems and this book helped to highlight that for me once more.



One thought on “Travel Log #11: “Holding Up Half the Sky” By Madeleine Harder. Venice, Italy

  1. Madeleine, that is so cool that you saw that company while in Germany! I remember taking that class with you last semester and that case study happened to be my favorite one so I would be just as excited if I came across them while traveling abroad. I love how you related this social venture to the book on how they both are in existence for the same reason, to make a slight change in the world for the better. The book was made through an entrepreneurial venture just as another other company is.


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