Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

By Nicholaas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Vintage. 2009.

Review by Paddy Ducklow, Erb-Guillison Chair of Marriage and Family Ministries at Carey Theological College

Reading the book, “Half the Sky; Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” angered me, saddened me, but also filled me with a sense of hope that the world might finally wake up to the horrific treatment of women and children within our global village and seriously address the issues.  When I heard Paddy Ducklow recommend the book to a group, I asked if he would share his thoughts.  Perhaps both of our endorsements will encourage you to pick up this book and pray about what God would have us do.

Faye Reynolds, Director of Women’s and Intergenerational Ministries

The abuse of women and girls is abhorrent, especially if you think about it. Some thinking requires a vulnerability to deep hurt in the realization of well-hidden societal harms. Reading “Half the Sky” is more than interesting and helpful. It is a harsh as well as hopeful encounter with a part of our world that most people would prefer to dismiss and deny.

But to ignore generational hatred towards “Half the Sky” (Chairman Mao’s phrase for half the planet referring to women) is to ignore the terrors of kidnapped First Nations girls that are trafficked in Vancouver’s East side and the Chinese “pleasure houses” in soiled apartments on Burnaby’s Kingsway.

But the focus of the book is on other parts of our world where preteens are trafficked as prostitutes, where child brides endure acid attacks and burnings (that is, if they survive the attacks), where twelve year olds suffer genital mutilation (politely called “female circumcision”) and where rape and fistula ripping is used to destroy the structure of family and society.  All in all, not easy reading.

“Half the Sky” is about advocacy for “the least, last, lost, little and nearly dead,” Jesus’ target group and for whom He came to advocate. It is a plea to stand with the hurt and harmed of our neighborhoods and our world.  It is warfare against users and abusers around our very hurtful globe. I recommend this for book group reading in all of our churches, but do be prepared for tears, anguish and anger.

For more information on the “Half the Sky” Movement, see http://www.halftheskymovement.org/.