Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2012
Half the Sky Book Review

I "read"--listened to this book in the unabridged audio version is 10.5 hrs on 8 CDs, very well read by Cassandra Compbell, by HighBridgeaudio.com

This book was an easy read, although the topic is not normally one I would choose. It was enthralling--hopeful and uplifting and often stories are told first-hand through the eyes of those women rather than the world. I listened to it end to end--during my commute. It's well-written and well-told. You will not put this down. It might even compel you to action-- knowing that even a tiny action can help change the world one human being at a time.

What the book's about:

The Problem:

How can a country and culture or the world thrive, when half its resources go untapped? When half of our world is debased and marginalized, and not permitted to actively participate in society, the world is a poorer place. We are talking about the female in society within less developed parts of the world.

Mass and gang rapes (including as a war tactic), kidnapping, sex trafficking & brothels, the cult of virginity and the hymen, sexual honor in the mid-east, honor killing, and genital mutilation and cutting---take place daily against our female sisters globally. Like slavery, females are devalued as human beings in many cultures and countries.

Women hold just 1% of land that is titled, according to the United Nations. They have no opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way. This book tells us that when half the people of the world are allowed to contribute, the difference is markedly positive for a country's GDP and its people.

These countries that devalue women include Pakistan, China, India, Liberia, Africa, Eastern Europe and SE Asia.

Change Makers

Empowerment and education are the steps to preventing these behaviors, and family planning and birth control, including education to reduce family size. The availability and funding of condoms to prevent AIDS in poor countries.

Grassroots social movements are far more effective than laws and large aid $$$ that don't reach the poor. Societal issues against women are a cultural norm, and that does not change even with the laws say otherwise. Education helps change oppressive culture.

The U.S. sometimes is seen as sitting in moral judgment when there might be better actions to help stem this tide.

Capitalism achieves more than what charity and good intentions sometimes cannot: Micro credit loans are a revolution, in helping people help themselves. This book shares online sites where you can lookup and participate in this micro lending right down to the country, town and woman.

Double Standards in Society

There is a double standard regarding sexism and misogyny for female vs. male population

Women are lured by false promises of jobs, that turn out to be rape-run brothels.

In addition to the act of rape itself, there is a social stigma attached to rape and the victim often is cast out by her family and village. Rape victims are punished not the perpetrators and often women are forced to marry their attackers (and no one else will have them).

There is no protection from police, courts, or the public.

There is a high rate of female infanticide. Just by being female, fetuses are often aborted, babies allowed to die, or through-out their lives, receive less (or no) medical care vs. males.

Women also grow up to be the perpetrators of these same crimes against other women.

Women who are damaged physically by rape or childbirth or disease are abandoned as modern-day lepers, especially females in poor rural areas. High rates of death occur among these same women during child birth. Health care is poor overall, and women receive the lowest (or no) priority.

Some countries have young females paired up with old "Sugar Daddies" -with a trade off of material goods for sex. Middle aged men take teenagers as baubles in exchange for money and gifts. These older men are more likely to have AIDS and pass it on.

There is a shortage of doctors, supplies and facilities in many countries. Conservative religious attitudes related to culture are repressive to women. Sexual abuse, arranged marriage, and virginity testing are all practices that contribute to the problem

Bottom Line:

This book outlines the problem, and some solutions that have shown success, and how we can get involved at any level. Go to the end for explicit referrals where you can source for where and how you can help--on any level.
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