Sunday, May 16, 2010

Together We Can Lift the Sky

I've read Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kirstof and Sheryl Wudunn who happen to be winners of the Pulitzer Prize AND are a husband and wife team.

The book provides an insight on the oppression of women in developing countries and how and why, as a society, we need to lift this oppression together, men and women.

It is hard to believe the stories of sex slavery and the inhumane actions towards young women. Even more unbelievable is that some women who are products of this oppression eventually oppress other women. It is estimated that 3 million women and girls are enslaved into the sex trade, compared to 80,000 slaves shipped annually across the Atlantic from Africa in the 1780's, which declined to 50,000 between 1811 and 1850.

As I read I wonder, "What can I do about this and what about the needs of women in our own backyards?" Consider this, the countries that severely oppress women are the countries that breed terrorism and radical extremist. Now that certainly hits home.

I live where I have many freedoms, but I see remnants of the oppression described in this book, at my front door. Still many companies, organizations, communities and families do not know the value in gender diversity. Many women are not confident in the value they provide. In many ways, believing that, as a country, we are very "female" forward thinking has us stuck in mediocrity. As I learn more about domestic violence against women and childhood sexual abuse, I realize there is still so much more work that needs to be done here in the good ole USA.

Whether you are inclined to fight the oppression of women closer to home or across the oceans you will be inspired and motivated into action by reading this book. Vast bodies of water do not separate us from them. What happens there affects what happens here and vise versa , for we are all connected.

If women hold up half the sky, men hold up the other half. Its about valuing every body's contribution to the whole and allowing everybody to be themselves. When we say women should stand together, we are not saying, "Women together can stand alone". We are saying "Let's support other women in their contribution to holding up the sky. Its not a competition.

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