Customer Reviews for

Half the Sky

Average Rating 4
( 249 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Half the Sky - Essential reading

An engaging, absorbing book with powerful recommendations. Not as depressing as one might imagine given the subject matter.

posted by Lynn20NJ on November 11, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

44 out of 58 people found this review helpful.

I'm very surprised that I don't like this book

I believe in book's main premise: by empowering women and girls, we can change the world and help end poverty. However, I found it disappointing and shocking to read this entire book and not find a single story about water and sanitation. You can't even find the word "w...
I believe in book's main premise: by empowering women and girls, we can change the world and help end poverty. However, I found it disappointing and shocking to read this entire book and not find a single story about water and sanitation. You can't even find the word "water" in the index.

No doubt, the stories Nick and Sheryl tell are horrific and inspiring, and women living in poverty face obstacles that I can't even imagine. But, as I read it, I felt it was more of a collection of anecdotes from Nick and Sheryl's international travels rather than as advertised: a "must-read" and "call to arms" about how we can end global poverty.

Having spent 19 years working in international aid, I don't see how you can seriously talk about helping women in poverty and not mention water or sanitation. For millions of girls from poor households, there is a straight tradeoff between time spent in school and time spent collecting water. For their mothers, time spent collecting water means they have little time for more productive work or rest.

Being without access to water means that to obtain the water they need to survive, people resort to ditches, rivers and lakes polluted with human or animal excrement, and they carry that water home on their heads or backs, causing chronic back pains and sores, wearing flip flops if they are wearing shoes at all, walking uphill on steep, rocky or muddy paths. This daily walk for water saps their energy, diminishes their health status, and prevents them from participating in economic and social activities that are vital to the development of communities.

Each day,
* Women spend the equivalent of 340 million work days on water collection
* Poor families spend $137 million is spent on treatment of water-related diseases
* 5 million girls are collecting water instead of attending school
* 7,000 children worldwide die from the lack of safe water and a toilet
Poverty and water are inextricably linked.

What began as a hopeful read has unfortunately left me jaded and wondering if providing PVC piping and septic tanks just don't have the emotional appeal and book-selling potential of sex slavery and genital mutilation.

So I'm in! Let's invest in women. I believe it will pay off. But we have to be smart about it. I've met too many girls who dropped out of school at the age of 6 to help their mothers carry water, so it makes no sense to me to invest in education in a community with no toilets or accessible, safe water supplies. It makes no sense to me to build a health clinic of any kind in a community without toilets or water either, because 80% of the illnesses that will come into that clinic will be caused by the lack of water and toilets. I'm also a believer in micro-lending, but I've met a lot of people who have defaulted on their loans in order to pay medical bills for a family member suffering from diarrhea.

I'm excited that people are talking about women and development. But I'm disappointed at this missed opportunity to talk about the vital links between water and sanitation and poverty and empowerment. We need to act appropriately to ensure that the lack of attention to water and sanitation does not undermine all other development goals.

posted by Water1st-Marla on October 14, 2009

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I'm very surprised that I don't like this book

    I believe in book's main premise: by empowering women and girls, we can change the world and help end poverty. However, I found it disappointing and shocking to read this entire book and not find a single story about water and sanitation. You can't even find the word "water" in the index.

    No doubt, the stories Nick and Sheryl tell are horrific and inspiring, and women living in poverty face obstacles that I can't even imagine. But, as I read it, I felt it was more of a collection of anecdotes from Nick and Sheryl's international travels rather than as advertised: a "must-read" and "call to arms" about how we can end global poverty.

    Having spent 19 years working in international aid, I don't see how you can seriously talk about helping women in poverty and not mention water or sanitation. For millions of girls from poor households, there is a straight tradeoff between time spent in school and time spent collecting water. For their mothers, time spent collecting water means they have little time for more productive work or rest.

    Being without access to water means that to obtain the water they need to survive, people resort to ditches, rivers and lakes polluted with human or animal excrement, and they carry that water home on their heads or backs, causing chronic back pains and sores, wearing flip flops if they are wearing shoes at all, walking uphill on steep, rocky or muddy paths. This daily walk for water saps their energy, diminishes their health status, and prevents them from participating in economic and social activities that are vital to the development of communities.

    Each day,
    * Women spend the equivalent of 340 million work days on water collection
    * Poor families spend $137 million is spent on treatment of water-related diseases
    * 5 million girls are collecting water instead of attending school
    * 7,000 children worldwide die from the lack of safe water and a toilet
    Poverty and water are inextricably linked.

    What began as a hopeful read has unfortunately left me jaded and wondering if providing PVC piping and septic tanks just don't have the emotional appeal and book-selling potential of sex slavery and genital mutilation.

    So I'm in! Let's invest in women. I believe it will pay off. But we have to be smart about it. I've met too many girls who dropped out of school at the age of 6 to help their mothers carry water, so it makes no sense to me to invest in education in a community with no toilets or accessible, safe water supplies. It makes no sense to me to build a health clinic of any kind in a community without toilets or water either, because 80% of the illnesses that will come into that clinic will be caused by the lack of water and toilets. I'm also a believer in micro-lending, but I've met a lot of people who have defaulted on their loans in order to pay medical bills for a family member suffering from diarrhea.

    I'm excited that people are talking about women and development. But I'm disappointed at this missed opportunity to talk about the vital links between water and sanitation and poverty and empowerment. We need to act appropriately to ensure that the lack of attention to water and sanitation does not undermine all other development goals.

    44 out of 58 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 17, 2012

    This book was an easy read, although the topic is not normally o

    This book was an easy read, although the topic is not normally one I would choose. It was hopeful and often stories are told first-hand through the eyes of those women rather than the world. I listened to it end to end—during my commute. It’s well-written and well-told. You will not put this down. It might even compel you to action. I

    How can a country and culture or the world thrive, when half its resources go untapped? When half of our world is debased and marginalized, and not permitted to actively participate in society, the world is a poorer place. We are talking about the female in society within less developed parts of the world.

    Mass and gang rapes (including as a war tactic), kidnapping, sex trafficking & brothels, the cult of virginity and the hymen, sexual honor in the mid-east, honor killing, and genital mutilation and cutting—-take place daily against our female sisters globally. Like slavery, females are devalued as human beings in many cultures and countries.

    Women hold just 1% of land that is titled, according to the United Nations. They have no opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way. This book tells us that when half the people of the world are allowed to contribute, the difference is markedly positive for a country’s GDP and its people.

    These countries that devalue women include Pakistan, China, India, Liberia, Africa, Eastern Europe and SE Asia.

    Empowerment and education are the steps to preventing these behaviors, and family planning and birth control, including education to reduce family size. The availability and funding of condoms to prevent AIDS in poor countries.

    Grassroots social movements are far more effective than laws and large aid $$$ that don’t reach the poor. Societal issues against women are a cultural norm, and that does not change even with the laws say otherwise. Education helps change oppressive culture.

    The U.S. sometimes is seen as sitting in moral judgment when there might be better actions to help stem this tide.

    Capitalism achieves more than what charity and good intentions sometimes cannot: Micro credit loans are a revolution, in helping people help themselves. This book shares online sites where you can lookup and participate in this micro lending right down to the country, town and woman.

    There is a double standard regarding sexism and misogyny for female vs. male population

    Women are lured by false promises of jobs, that turn out to be rape-run brothels.

    In addition to the act of rape itself, there is a social stigma attached to rape and the victim often is cast out by her family and village. Rape victims are punished not the perpetrators and often women are forced to marry their attackers (and no one else will have them).

    There is no protection from police, courts, or the public.

    There is a high rate of female infanticide. Just by being female, fetuses are often aborted, babies allowed to die, or through-out their lives, receive less (or no) medical care vs. males.

    Women also grow up to be the perpetrators of these same crimes against other women.

    Women who are damaged physically by rape or childbirth or disease are abandoned as modern-day lepers, especially females in poor rural areas. High rates of death occur among these same women during child birth. Health care is poor overall, and women receive the lowest (or no) priority.

    Some countries have young females paired up with old “Sugar Daddies” –with a trade off of material goods for sex. Middle aged men take teenagers as baubles in exchange for money and gifts. These older men are more likely to have AIDS and pass it on.

    There is a shortage of doctors, supplies and facilities in many countries. Conservative religious attitudes related to culture are repressive to women. Sexual abuse, arranged marriage, and virginity testing are all practices that contribute to the problem

    This book outlines the problem, and some solutions that have shown success, and how we can get involved at any level. Go to the end for explicit referrals where you can source for where and how you can help—on any level.

    I will concur with another reviewer--and I had not thought of this--that no mention of the (lack of) water and sanitation were mentioned. But I still found it a compellng book, bringing a topic we hear about, to a much closer view.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Half the Sky - Essential reading

    An engaging, absorbing book with powerful recommendations. Not as depressing as one might imagine given the subject matter.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    This book describes the grim reality of life for women and girls in much of the developing world and is must reading for everyone who cares about education and empowerment for women and girls worldwide!

    The title of this book comes from an old Chinese proverb: women hold up half the sky. The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors lead us into the world of women in developing countries: breaking the silence about vaginal fistulas that ostracize thousands and thousands of girls; trafficking of girls and women; discussing the reality of wife-beatings as prevalent; and other contemporary issues facing women in a variety of cultures around the world. But they don't stop there, they then share the wonderful stories of hope and empowerment: through self-help projects; access to education; and micro-credit loans. One telling statement with its source in the US military, to paraphrase: where girls and women are educated, terrorism is not prevalent.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Nick and Sheryl truly expose the tragedy that is gender discrimination. Through powerful and painful, yet uplifting, stories they paint a vivid picture of what it is to be a woman in societies where they are given little or no value.

    With all the heart-wrenching tragedy they also show that progress is being made and hope is not futile.

    This book truly has changed my perspective on what I consider a bad day and the first world problems I face, such as a long line at Starbucks. It has also propelled me into action and I am now committed to making a difference in women¿s lives.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2009

    We Can Change the World

    Half the Sky is the most powerful book I have ever read. First person accounts of women suffering horrific abuse are unforgettable. While the reader is confronted with the stark realities that many women wordwide face, the authors also provide concrete tools and encouragement on how to make a real difference in the world. The authors invite us to join a revolution. I, for one, am reporting for duty!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2012

    So awe-inspiring and emotional

    This book has been a blessing for me. It keeps me focused on gratitude and it also inspires me to want to do more for people. Reading the stories of these women just touches my heart and the book clearly portrays the emotion, the passion, and the love of these women. I have cried, I have smiled, and I have empathized with the women. And the authors have done such a great job with promoting awareness of oppression of women across the globe. My friend told me about this book a year ago and I finally took the time over the Thanksgiving break this year to read it. A MUST READ: you will be inspired and humbled! :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Echo

    Which one? And wha clan r u?)

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    This book changed my life. Every girl needs to read this book .

    This book changed my life. Every girl needs to read this book ...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Was required for a class but it ended up changing me

    I dived into this book so I could get it out of the way. It turns out I could not put it down and it made me want to make a difference. I am an education major now I am considering going abroad to teach.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Grey Areas, but definitely the truth.

    I was very interested in reading this book just from the reviews I read about it, but there was a little disappointment in it. The authors talk about gray areas in the problems they encountered and I encountered my own in reading this book. I have read both authors' previous work, but some of the recommendations in this book are realistic and some are hopeful. I don't believe foreign countries should not allow doctors to get degrees, just to make sure they don't emigrate. I doubt the authors would be saying this if a doctor in rural Iran was being persecuted and wanted to leave. Granted their work is very valuable to the country, but life decisions should be their own. You can't force people to work in certain conditions and expect them to be above human needs or to not become desensitized to things they see everyday. I do think the situation at the hospital with Dr. Pipi and the nurses was disturbing and disgusting, but like the authors I can understand that it is human circumstances and behaviors that contribute to these problems. I do agree that maybe training midwives and others to do the same duties a doctor would perform would be more practical. I doubt any real physician who cares for their patient would be threatened by their patient receiving accurate care before they are taken to a hospital, its better than having a woman lay in labor for days only for it to end in the death of both mother and child. Also, the idea that female travelers may have an easier time connecting with people is true, but I don't think the authors should gloss over real dangers female travelers face. Any female traveler to India is very familiar with Eve teasing and the rapes that go on there. Believe me when I say the local men are not intimidated by foreign women of any race. While there were some instances when I was reading where I just didn't agree with some of the authors' recommendations, I do think the wider message of this book should not be lost. It is a call to help volunteer at the many organizations talked about in the book. I am definitely interested in the fistula surgeries and hospitals dedicated to this cause. I even remember seeing a NOVA special on the hospital in Ethiopia and the care taken to give these women their dignity back and to overcome not only the physical, but emotional wounds inflected upon them by society. Cultural and societal attitudes must be changed in order for things to progress around the world and better the lives of women and girls. It was also great to see that there were grassroots efforts in combination with government agencies that came together to help better the lives of women and girls around the world. I do think there is more to be done and I will try to do my part.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Half the Sky, a life changing book for me

    This is an inspiring and eye opening book I am recommending to all my friends and one I am giving to many as a holiday gift, along with a donation in their name to one of the listed organizations which support women. The authors vividly let us realize the plight of many women and girls in developing countries and show us how little it takes to help them. I appreciated the mention of websites we can consult for more information about aid groups.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    ARTEMIS CABIN

    Here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2014

    The book Half The Sky is written by Nicholas D. Kristof and She

    The book Half The Sky is written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Half The Sky gives you an insight on what women truly go through in other countries from poverty, rape and success. In this novel it tells many heartbreaking stories of women and young children trying to survive in their small villages. Some of these women have completely changed their lives by utilizing the help that has been given to them. The statistics in this novel are mind blowing such as this one, “ 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, not just sexual servitude”(Kristof and WuDunn 9). Their writing style is very researched based and gives you a lot of sad true stories but give you happy uplifting stories also.
    If you are planning on reading this book be prepared for intense descriptions and an emotional journey. The reader needs to be mature and prepared to face the harsh reality of what happens to women in different countries throughout the entire world. I really enjoyed the way the authors give true stories in positive ways that could help encourage people to acknowledge the worlds need for help in different opportunities whether it be donating money or volunteering your time. Overall I believe it was a very good book with great detail on the lives of women around the world. To read this book I would suggest being out of high school, It is very intense and you must be very mature to understand the severity of the situations. I strongly suggest this book to anyone mature looking to read very inspiring stories. The novel has such an impact that will make you want to give everything you possibly can to those in need.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2014

    Highly Recommend

    This book brings out the many ways that women are still considered second class citizens in this world, and it shows ways we can help to change that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    Not what I expected

    Half The Sky is definitly, as my friend said, not for the faint of heart. Grotesque injustice and unfathomable violence aside, I thought that since my Christian friend recommended it as resource material for human trafficking, that this book was appraoching the issue from a Christian perspective. The authors are clearly not. We DO need to be aware of the condition of women in other countries, which this book clearly shows, but without the Gospel, without the fact that God sent His only Son to die for men AND women, then a woman's value is only limited to what a woman can DO (for the economy, for others, for her family). While Jesus was here in the flesh, He gave women a status boost by talking to them, healing them, teaching them; not because they DID something phenominal to merit it but because women are living, breathing, human beings, also made in the image of God (Genisis 1:27). That in itself should be enough to give women value.
    Several times, the authors took Bible passages out of context to "prove" that the Bible promotes cruelty and injustice to women. Careful study, within the context of the book, as well as the Bible in it's entirety, will reveal that God doesn't hate women, doesn't promote cruelty and that the Bible is not to blame for backwards thinking.
    I left this book feeling very depressed and discouraged. For encouragement through horrible trauma and discrimination, I would rather recommend "Trapped In Hitler's Hell" or "Captive In Iran". Read those if you REALLY want to be inspired!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    This should be a must read for every adult!

    This could have been a very depressing book, but instead it was inspiring and changed my life. I love how the authors present real problems in the world and give the true picture. There are no quick easy answers and they help you understand why, yet they show you that each and every person can make a difference in the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2014

    Clarice

    ??????????

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    PORTS COURTS

    If u have not been pit with a trainee then play with the nyads.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Very inspiring

    This book is phenomenal and leaves readers wanting to help, wanting to change this international problem. The authors are up front and honest, showing the reader the truths of the situation through stories of victims. Read this book - it will change the way you view several women's issues.

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