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Half the sky : turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide /

Two Pulitzer Prize winners issue a call to arms against our era's most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women in the developing world. They show that a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad and that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women's p...

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Main Author: Kristof, Nicholas D., 1959-
Other Authors: WuDunn, Sheryl, 1959-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2009
Edition: 1st ed.
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Review by Booklist Review

Despite an estimated 107 million women and girls missing in the world population due to every form of abuse, from infant neglect to honor killings, gendercide receives none of the coverage and outrage of other human-rights violations, lament these two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists. The husband-and-wife team chronicles the horrific abuses suffered by girls and women: sold into sex slavery, abused and exploited as workers, beaten and killed to protect male honor, and generally denied education, medical attention, and food reserved for boys and men. The authors focus on sex trafficking, gender-based violence (including honor killings and mass rape), and maternal mortality. They also examine the economic forces at work that promise more opportunities, along with required education and resulting autonomy, for female workers and entrepreneurs as developing countries recognize how they waste this valuable resource. Kristof and WuDunn reinforce the truth behind the terrible statistics with passionately reported personal stories of girls and women (including photographs) and efforts to help them, including a final chapter suggesting how readers can help.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

New York Times columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter, make a brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. "More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century," they write, detailing the rampant "gendercide" in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force. China's meteoric rise was due to women's economic empowerment: 80% of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese. The authors reveal local women to be the most effective change agents: "The best role for Americans... isn't holding the microphone at the front of the rally but writing the checks," an assertion they contradict in their unnecessary profiles of American volunteers finding "compensations for the lack of shopping malls and Netflix movies" in making a difference abroad. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Kristof and WuDunn, the first married couple ever both to win Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, here expose the brutal horrors endured by millions of women throughout Asia and Africa, putting names and faces to these individuals and their suffering. They argue that the key to change is social entrepreneurs who can empower at the grassroots level through such means as education and microloans. With her soothing delivery, actress/narrator Cassandra Campbell (The School of Essential Ingredients) avoids sensationalizing this already dramatic material, whose accounts of gang rape, forced prostitution, and childbirth injuries make for painful but essential adult listening. Strongly recommended. [The Knopf hc, which published in September 2009, was a New York Times best seller; the pb will release in May 2010.-Ed.]-Risa Getman, Hendrick Hudson Free Lib., Montrose, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A Pulitzer Prizewinning husband-and-wife reporter team track the growing movement to empower women in the developing world. Kristof and WuDunn (Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia, 2000, etc.) traveled through Africa and Southeast Asia meeting with victims of sex trafficking, forced prostitution and various forms of gender-based neglect and violence, as well as interviewing those who are making a difference in the lives of impoverished and abused women. While they provide historical background and cite grim statistics to back their claims of oppression, the impact of their report comes from the personal stories of remarkable women, such as Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was gang-raped. Instead of killing herself as was expected by her culture, she fought back, won compensation and is using the money to build a girls' high school. The authors argue that fighting back is key and that education that will empower women is crucial to changing culturally embedded attitudes. Along with the success stories, Kristof and WuDunn report on the failure of large-scale international aid, which often comes in the form of what they term "tree-top" projects as opposed to grassroots efforts. The authors are especially effective at getting women to speak openly about their lives, and they do not hesitate to write about unpleasant facts, bad outcomes and unintended consequences: Women are often the abusers of other women; women freed from brothels sometimes return for drugs or money; introduction of a cash crop to help women earn money for their families can end up polluting the environment. Also noteworthy is the authors' willingness to say what is politically incorrect: When microloans are made to men, the money is likely to go toward instant gratificationalcohol, drugs and prostituteswhile women are more apt to spend it on family health and educating children. Pointing out that the emancipation of girls enabled China's economic surge and that the status of women is "the greatest handicap of Muslim Middle Eastern societies today," Kristof and WuDunn forcefully contend that improving the lot of girls and women benefits everyone. They conclude with specific steps that individuals can take to support the empowerment movement. Intelligent, revealing and important. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.