For the last few weeks, I have obsessed over the book, Half the Sky by NYTimes writers and Pulitzer winners Nicholas Kristof and wife Sheryl WuDunn. My words cannot do it justice; please read it.
Kristof and WuDunn assert: “In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world.”
In the developed world when we think of gender equality, we consider issues like how many women are in Congress or whether it is harder for women to make it big in business. Arguably the worst we as women face is the threat of sexual discrimination.
In the developing world, gender inequality means that you—as a mother of six impoverished children—arrange for your daughter to go wash dishes in the city. Your trusted neighbor, who is making the arrangements for you, assures you that your daughter will be safe. And heaven knows you need the money she can send home. Instead, your neighbor takes your daughter across the border and sells her to a brother for fifteen dollars.
Half the Sky unblinkingly describes the plight of women worldwide, from sex trafficking to maternal mortality to genital cutting to honor killings. But the best part is, the book is a plea for us to get involved. Rather than leave the reader hopeless, the authors offer countless stories of success on the part of aid organizations and social entrepreneurs. AND they recommend how to get involved and offer a list of reputable organizations to support (whether by volunteering, writing letters, donating, etc.).
I felt my heart changing as I absorbed this book. Who am I that because I happened to be born in one of the world's best countries, I can ignore those who weren't? I tried to go shopping this morning, but my heart felt heavy with the knowledge of all that I have compared to my sisters around the world. I left empty handed.
I can't say that I will stop buying nice things. But my convictions to live a modest life and to use a good part of our means to better the world continue to grow. I owe the Lord (and those women) at least that much.