Sunday, February 21, 2010

Half The Sky

I read the book Half The Sky Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide by co-authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, published by Alfred A. Knoph in September 2009.

This important book enlightened even me, a 63 year-old man who has a mother, sister, wife, daughter, and has worked with lots of women all my adult life. I love, admire, and respect women and have often said they are superior to men in many, many ways. When I was in my career job, I liked management teams when they consisted largely of females. They were almost always appreciative, tolerant, empathetic, patient, and stressed quality over quantity. I loved working with and for women!

Now, let me relate some facts presented in this book:

An obstetric fistula is a condition of torn or weakened membranes brought on by difficult childbirth. Left uncorrected by surgery, a fistula results in urine and bowel waste continually flowing from the female body. Poor health care in parts of the world results in some women living with this condition. The odor is horrendous and the unfortunate women are often ostracized to the point of death or suicide.

On any given day, absenteeism by doctors in health care facilities is 30% in regions where care is desperately needed.

Iodine deficiency in some countries affects brain development in the first trimester of fetuses and lowers IQ by 15 points.

In some countries young girls are lured to other countries by job opportunities and then forced into prostitution and remain trapped in brothels.

Female genital cutting is practiced in many cultures as a way to deter promiscuous behavior.

Infibulation is a process of stitching the vulva to prevent sexual intercourse until marriage and is practiced in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

During the last hundred years, of all the countries in the world China has done more for the advancement of women. Women in urban areas of China participate in decision making in the community and enjoy high status in the family with housework equally shared by the husband and children.

Fully 30 percent of parliament positions in Rwanda are held by women since the genocide of 1994. As a result, the country is changed and getting better.

This book is about the potential of women worldwide and the need to break free from some customs that are rooted in religion, culture, tradition, peer pressure, and sexuality. The authors put forth a case that a better world will only result when women are more educated and participate in governance. They point out that when women are educated birth rates decline, violence and terror are reduced, and health improves overall.

The authors contend that a movement for women is needed similar to the abolitionists who changed slavery in the 1800's and activists who affected civil rights in the 1900's.

Do you agree and can you be an instrument of change?

Have a good week!



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