When I first opened Kristof and WuDunn’s book Half the Sky I knew that it would be like no other book I have ever read before. I knew it would be hard to read, because it wasn’t fiction, each terrible story was real and it both scared me and gave me a heavy heart. I knew this was the case after the first page in which I was immediately faced with the terrible story of Srey Rath, a young Cambodian girl who was forced into numerous brothels as a sex slave. This text addresses some of the most horrific stories around the world in regards to the mistreatment and inequality of women, specifically in Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East. The first half of the text emphasizes in detail the stories of women and young girls who: were forced into sex trafficking, who endured rape by family, police and strangers and then were forced to marry those who claimed them; women who are denied medical attention, specifically when pregnant and then are cast out by society to die, when they become too much of a burden. The second half of the text explains why these women endure these punishments. In the parts of the world in which women’s value are seen as less than that of animals, are the parts in which there is little to no education given, especially to women. These young girls and women who are subjected to these tortures, accept them because they are uneducated, which makes them feel weak and helpless and that they have no worth other than to be an abiding house wife and slave. Asa stated in chapter 9, “That is why these people are afraid of educating women-they are afraid that then the women will ask questions, will speak up… That’s why I believe in education. It is such a powerful tool to overcome poverty and rebuild the country” (p.164).
One story that resonated and affected me the most was that of a young Ethiopian girl named Woinshet. In Ethiopia if a man is attracted or intrigued by a girl and knows that he cannot pay the dowery, he will kidnap and rape the girl, which would make her unfit to marry any other man, forcing her to marry her rapist. Woinshet was one of these unfortunate girls who was taken by a stranger and raped, in hopes that she would marry him out of obligation and tradition. Yet Woinshet and her father refused to follow tradition and have her live a life of misery with her napper and rapist. Resulting in her having a long battle in court to get justice. She later became a lawyer; in which she would then defend young women who suffered the same experience. This story resonated with me, because unlike a lot of the other stories, Woinshet, when taken and abused, she did not succumb, she fought and she continued to fight even when society had turned against her and sided with the tradition of injustice and abuse.
The primary solution the text emphasizes, for women’s inequality and suffering around the world, is education. Westerners assume that by giving money and intruding upon a nation telling them what to do and what not to do is help, yet they don’t realize that their ignorance to the culture and the actual problem, outweighs their aid. Derek Bok once stated that “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” (pg.167). Instead of blindly giving money to an organization, I will use my Marketing education and experience to not only spread awareness about the terrors of the world, specifically in regards to women and young girls, but I will also spread knowledge about each situation, each culture and the importance of education and how education will be the true salvation of men and women.
Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into
Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New York: