Moving from Oppression to Opportunity

Posted on June 29, 2010 by ELCA World Hunger

The Book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is written by a husband and wife team who are former journalists for the New York Times, and through their travels found an issue that had been missing from the headlines- the ongoing struggle for gender equality around the world, and what this inequality means for women in the global South.

Half the Sky focuses on four issues in which gender discrimination is hurting and killing women around the world. Here is a snapshot of the issues they discuss in detail, along with some statistics from the book about the scope of these issues around the globe.

Human Trafficking: 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year and 80% of them are women and girls. They are trafficked mainly for sexual exploitation. Millions more are trafficked within countries each year.

Rape and violence: In most countries between 30-60% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence from a partner. Many women don’t report rape for fear of being stigmatized.

Maternal Mortality: In the global South there is one maternal death per minute. The lifetime risk of maternal death is 1,000 times higher in a poorer country than in a more prosperous country.

Routine discrimination: Between 60 and 101 million women are missing from around the world today. They have died due to unequal care or feticide, and at least another 2 million die from discrimination each year.

In addition to discussing these horrific problems that come along with gender inequality, the authors also provide ways to, as their title states, turn “oppression into opportunity.” The two solutions they focus on the most are educating girls and women and providing them with microloans. By educating girls and women, the authors argue that they can receive the necessary tools to stand against injustice, and are given the opportunity to participate in the economy. By receiving microloans, the book suggests that it gives women more power in society while giving them the chance to get out of poverty.

One helpful tool that Half the Sky provides is ways in which you can get involved in the struggle for global gender equality. The book provides many inspiring success stories of how individuals have overcome oppression, and also provides specific actions anyone can take to make a difference in the lives of women worldwide.

If you are interested in obtaining a study guide for this book, check out The Table!

-Allie Stehlin

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