One noticeable thing about being a new mom is how quickly you forgo personal luxuries that used to be commonplace. Gone are the regular manis, goodbye Satuday sleep-ins and I don’t think I’ll be splurging on trendy jewelry for myself anytime soon. All that is fine and of course I’d give up anything for little Rose but one thing I don’t think I should give up is reading. Granted I don’t see myself finishing a new best seller in one day for a few years but reading is so important, I’m trying to make time for it. Even if it is at 3:00 am while I nurse.
As a member of two book clubs, I’ve had to prioritize. And after signing up to lead a meeting in March for one of the groups, I knew I was pushing the limits of what I could pull off. I mean, I’m barely pulling off the motherhood part so preparing for an adult conversation was pretty exciting. The group is full of friendly smart women who live in our town. I’m the newest member so hosting a meeting felt like a big deal. Hosting with a 2.5 month old felt overwhelming. But the book I recommended is so important, I knew it was worth getting out of my comfort zone.
The book is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn, a moving and perspective-changing book. Each chapter explores an area of our world where women are oppressed and includes an inspiring effort woman are pursuing to help support the women in the community. This makes the book surprisingly uplifting! It also sheds light on some of the most shocking yet prevalent ways women are oppressed in our world through sex trafficking, maternal mortality, and education. Just look at these key points:
- More girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the 20th century.
- The modern global slave trade is larger in absolute terms than the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th & 19th centuries.
- There are 5,000 ‘honor’ killings each year in Muslim countries (although the authors argue there is closer to 6,000).
- The equivalent of 5 jumbo jets full of women die each day in childbirth. In Niger, 1 in 7 women die in childbirth.
- Women comprise 70% of the world’s poorest people and own only 1% of the titled land.
Shocking right? As a woman and now as a mom of a girl, these abuses feel so personal and so horrific. If only there was something we could do to change it or to make an impact.
Well, there is!
First, you can learn about the movement through any of these ways:
- Reading the book: Half the Sky
- Watching the PBS Documentary: It is long but each chapter features celebrities like Diane Lane, America Ferrera, Olivia Wilde, and Gabrielle Union who help to tell the story and introduce you to the amazing women who are making huge impacts in very difficult situations.
- Watching the TED TALK: Hosted by one of the authors, Cheryl Wu Dunn.
- Checking out the website: halftheskymovement.org
There are some clear ways to help and it is surprisingly easy. Money goes so far in many other countries and there is no greater investment than investing in women. You can donate, volunteer or advocate. Check out the ways you can help and do something, anything. Even if it is donating $15, be part of the solution.
As women, moms, dads, and just plain humans, I hope this movement grows and gets the support and visibility it needs to end female oppression in our world. Wouldn’t it be nice to look back at these atrocities in the future with the same horror and disbelief we view slavery? It’s time for us to take action to drive towards the change that is needed. Who’s with me?