Oppression, Opportunity & Women
An adoptive parent to two beautiful girls from China, I am well acquainted with the Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky.” Considering the vast number of early adoptions from China were of girls (due in part to the large number of girls available at that time), this saying became quite popularized among families bringing home these little girls for whom they had such high hopes and dreams. It was a mantra that quantified the hopes these parents held for the future of their daughters. The irony in all of this, however, was that the very nation that had birthed those beautiful words was the same nation that had a disproportionate number of girls available for adoption due precisely to the legacy of the undervaluing of girls in traditional Chinese culture. It is a sad irony that has repeated itself throughout cultures of the world as we struggle to align what we say we believe about the value of our girls with what reality reflects in the actual lives of young girls and women around the globe.
In their intriguing work, “Half the Sky”, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn address this issue with candor, but also with hope. The subtitle expresses their sentiments for a future of hope: “Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”. What I most appreciate about this work is that although they must address head-on the sad and disheartening statistics from sex trafficking, to religious violence against women, to high rates of maternal mortality, Kristof and WuDunn do a brilliant job at offering genuine solutions that can and should have widespread support, if only we can encourage awareness and advocacy. Especially critical is their inclusion of economic realities and the conclusions of the economic experts who, through careful research and study, have acknowledged that making economic opportunities and equality available globally to women living in poverty is not only “right” and “good”, but it actually makes economic sense and can lift entire families, communities and even nations out of economic hardship. Amazing insight that by doing the “right” thing, everyone seems to benefit!
“Half the Sky” is a welcome addition to any study on not only the religious implications for gender equality, but the global economic, cultural, and societal impact. It is not an attempt to brow-beat those who disagree with gender equality in certain areas for religious or cultural reasons, but instead, an attempt to share the genuine change and hope a respect for both “halves of the sky” can bring. To view on Amazon, click below: