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From the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, here is a passionate call to arms against the oppression of women around the globe— “the central moral challenge” of our time. Through inspiring stories of extraordinary women, Kristof and WuDunn show that the most effective way to fight global poverty is to unleash the potential of women. They also offer an uplifting do-it-yourself tool kit for those who want to help.

“An unblinking look at one of the seminal moral challenges of our time. This stirring book is at once a savage indictment of gender inequality in the developing world and an inspiring testament to these women’s courage, resilience, and their struggle for hope and recovery. An unexpectedly uplifting read.” -Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

(Text summary and review from paperback Vintage books edition; cover image from goodreads.com)

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn was the March book for the Pi Phi Pages book club through Pi Beta Phi. I must admit that when I first saw this book, I was skeptical about reading it for the book club. I was sure that 1) I would never get it read in time with all of the essays I had to grade and 2) I wouldn’t find the book interesting enough to hold my attention. I will freely admit now that I was wrong on so many levels about Half the Sky.

Kristof and WuDunn’s use of stories about individual women/girls made the topic much more relatable. They did an excellent job of interweaving statistics and topics to crate a book that created a huge impact, at least on me. Many of the issues that are addressed in Half the Sky are ones that are not often discussed in the media. These issues, and there are too many to name, are ones that need to get more attention on a global and national level. As I was reading the different chapters (each one with a different focus), I found myself reading aloud the information that I found shocking to anyone who would listen. I wanted them to become as aware as I was about what was happening in different cultures around the world to women, and in some cases young boys.

I wish there was an easy way to sum up this book, but really there isn’t. The subject matter is too important to try and reduce it to just a few words. The idea of helping women around the world, and in return the rest of the global population, is too critical for furthering the development of economies across the globe. Kristof and WuDunn also spoke about how important education is. Education should not just be limited to those who can “afford” it, but every person in all communities. Kristof and WuDunn are able to demonstrate throughout Half the Sky how even the smallest bit of an increase in the education rates can have a profound difference in a community and the country.

I originally thought that I was going to be completely bored while reading Half the Sky, but I found myself engrossed in every bit of the conversation that was created in the dialogue of the text. I found myself wanting to do more…whatever that might be, I guess I’m still trying to figure that out. (I’m open to any suggestions!) I found myself wanting to share the information that Kristof and WuDunn were sharing with me through their writing, but my best advice would be to read Half the Sky for yourself. There are so many different chapters and ideas that starting with just one is enough to get you thinking. (I hope.) This is a book that I think every person should read. Even if a person isn’t moved to contribute in some way, we should all be aware of what happens in our world and how it can affect each one of us.

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