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ss triple helix - winter 2015,  Half the sky

Half the sky

How to change the world

Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Virago, 2010, £12 Pb 352pp, ISBN 9781844086825
Reviewed by Rhona Knight, GP in Leicester

Fierce, pragmatic, full of inspiring stories of courage and determination, Half the Sky is essential reading for every one of us - whichever our gender, wherever we are.' There are not many books that I recommend everyone should read, but since I read this book, I have echoed the book cover accolade and told many people about it, used it in sermons, and tweeted about it.

The book of real-life narratives is written by a couple who have encountered first-hand the unnecessary suffering of women globally, particularly in cultures where women are devalued and denied education; are subjected to rape and violence; are trafficked into prostitution. It also tells of extraordinary women, who, when given the opportunity, have overcome unbelievable obstacles and made an immense difference.

The title Half the Sky, is based on the words of Mao: 'Women hold up half the sky'. From an oppressive culture of foot-binding, the position of women in China has improved immensely. Chinese cities are 'one of the best places to grow up as female' (p229). Change is possible. The book evidences how education and employment for women are key factors in preventing child marriage, forced prostitution and trafficking. It demonstrates how grassroots, culturally appropriate interventions change lives and shows how you and I can become involved. Truly transformational.

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