Calling all superheroes, activists, and people of conscience! The time has come for us to join forces in a bold new grassroots effort to promote and protect the health and dignity and freedom of over half the world’s population!
I’m a member of a book club that’s currently reading a book called Half the Sky. Here’s the website for the book and the movement that is growing up around it:
As the subtitle indicates, Half the Sky is about turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. We still have a few chapters left to review, but since my library book was overdue, I decided to finish reading the book early. Therefore, I’m ready to start spreading the word and issue a call to action.
The strength of this book, as I see it, is that it focuses on stories â€” personal stories of women who have been harmed by various forms of oppression, and personal stories of women who have successfully taken a stand against the challenges that face them.
It’s one thing to hear a statistic; it’s another thing entirely to hear a personal story.
The statistics tell us that several million women a year are victims/survivors of sex trafficking, which is essentially a euphemism for sex slavery. We’re not talking about women who choose to offer sex in exchange for money; we’re talking about women who are kidnapped, deceived, and forced into providing sex for strangers, in exchange for money that all goes straight to their captor.
As horrible as such statistics are, they’re usually not enough to motivate people to take action. Personal stories, however, draw us in and make such injustices seem more real to us.
Half the Sky is full of such stories. One story involves a woman who escapes from sex slavery at great personal risk only to be returned to her captors by corrupt police. Another story involves a woman who survives such treatment and goes on to lead an organization that helps women who have escaped from sex slavery and are seeking to empower themselves so that they can hold onto their freedom.
The stories of this book cover a wide range of challenges facing the women of the world, including sex trafficking, maternal mortality, rape as a weapon of war, and the many other challenges of the second-class status that women endure in many places around the world. The authors don’t just focus on the problems â€” they also focus on solutions, particularly solutions that have been demonstrated to work and that we as readers can choose to support.
The book focuses on problems faced by women in “developing” countries. As people living in “developed” countries, it’s often hard for us to even know what exactly is going on, much less what we can do to improve the situation. Some foreign aid efforts do nothing, while others may even make the situation worse. That’s why Half the Sky focuses on organizations that are started by people in these developing nations who have found their own ways of addressing serious problems. This not only ensures that the programs are suited to the complex needs of the local community, but also shifts our perspective on women in these countries, treating them as self-empowered liberators who could simply use a little assistance from someone who shares in their commitment to social justice.
I can talk until I’m blue in the face about this book â€” or until my fingers are raw, I suppose, since I’m typing this message. But anything I say or type won’t be enough to inspire you. What will really make a difference for you is reading these women’s stories of oppression and liberation. Once you’ve seen what they’ve been through, and what they’ve done to face the challenges that surround them, you will surely be moved to do what you can to help.
The Half the Sky Movement offers many of the same resources as the book. The book is a more complete approach, offering both more stories and more ways that you can help. I encourage you to read the book. But in the meantime, the website is a good start. I encourage you to check it out right now â€” not later, not tomorrow, but as soon as you’re done reading this entry.
Once you’ve read the book, you’ll probably want to do something about it. I know I do! My book club hasn’t finished reading it yet â€” but when we do, I bet we’ll start talking about what we can do to support one or more of the organizations mentioned in the book. If you share our concern and passion for this cause, we can surely work together to make a difference.
This isn’t just a “women’s issue,” folks. This is a human rights issue, and a call to action for anyone with a sense of conscience and an ounce of compassion in their hearts.
Some people look at the scope of these problems and do nothing because the problem itself seems unsolvable. And really, who can say if humanity will ever live entirely without the evils described within this book. Personally, I believe that we can eliminate at least some of these evils over the course of several generations.
Either way, what we do know is that there are women (and men) right now who are working diligently and effectively to make life better for individual women and children who have suffered through sex slavery, and rape, and needless maternal complications, and a variety of other life-threatening and life-altering problems. These empowered women, who have seen some of the worst of what life has to offer, are doing good work to help their fellow women right now. With your support, and my support, they’ll be able to give better help to more people.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the Half the Sky Movement. Read Half the Sky. Talk with your family and friends about it, and help turn oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.