It appears that 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. More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.
Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl Wudunn: Half the Sky
Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
What is the #1 problem? Facing planet earth? Facing thoughtful people who have anything resembling a heart?
The Moral Challenge of This Century.
That’s the claim from the book’s companion web site. I think it may be correct.
I speak twice a month for CitySquare, at the Urban Engagement Book Club, and all of the books I present are books that deal with serious forms of injustice. Larry James and Gerald Britt and I sit in a room, discuss the issues we want to address in the coming 12 months, and then with iPads open, we look for books, and then we make mid-course substitutions as the year unfolds.
But here’s the thing. I read books that I don’t much think I would have discovered had it not been for this event.
And, every book I read does its job on my heart – I have my consciousness raised, my conscience tweaked, and I end up with some mix of rage, despair, “what’s the use,” and yet just a little resolve.
And I always feel that this work, presenting books on poverty and social justice, is just a little more important than anything else I do.
Today’s book, Half the Sky, is something. Painful, disturbing, difficult…
We all know about the international, multi-generational, multi-century abuse of women. But these Pulitizer Prize-winning authors are faithful and effective messengers. From Wikipedia:
In 1990 Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, earned a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for their reporting on the pro-democracy student movement and the related Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism. Kristof has also received the George Polk Award and an award from the Overseas Press Club for his reporting which focuses on human rights and environmental issues.
Kristof was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2004 and again in 2005 “for his powerful columns that portrayed suffering among the developing world’s often forgotten people and stirred action.” In 2006 Kristof won his second Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary “for his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world.” Kristof was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize again in 2012; altogether, he has been a Pulitzer finalist six times, which may be a record.
In this book, after they paint an absolute heart-breaking picture, they make quite a few suggestions. But they boil down to this: without attention, and action, men (and even some women) are going to rape and punish and abuse and persecute and destroy girls and women, just because they are girls/women, and just because they can. We need to pay attention; we need to go and see what is happening; and we need to give our money and time to bring about such needed change.
I come away from every Urban Engagement Book Club session always overwhelmed with “what can I do?” issues. But this much is clear: month after month – doing nothing is a really bad option!
Give some money to CitySquare here (there’s a “donate now” button on the home page).
Give some money to groups that provide tangible assistance to women throughout the world through Nicholas Kristof’s and Sheryl Wudunn’s Half the Sky site here. Click on the Partners tab; do a little research; pick a “partner,” and get started…
Cheryl offers: One of the activities I’ve recently volunteered for is collecting wine corks. While this might sound like I don’t have enough to do between running a business and teaching at SMU, I can assure you I am quite picky about how I invest my discretionary time. This opportunity came to me through my friend Linda Wind, dynamic master mind of the Wind Foundation for Woman dedicated to creating educational scholarships for disadvantaged women. Why corks? Besides the value of recycling, we earn 2 cents per cork and the money goes to create these scholarships. Our goal is to collect ONE MILLION WINE CORKS and I can tell you right now, that’s a lot! What I’ve noticed as I’ve made the rounds for the local wine bars and restaurants is how differently people from the various generations respond to the request for their support. By far and away, the most enthusiastic and engaged supporters are members of what we might call Generation Y; you know the ones many refer to as selfish, lazy, not willing to put in the work, entitlement crowd. In 100% of the cases when I’ve asked someone less than 30 years old if they would help, they have said “Yes!” And the best part is, they keep their word. So, to all those out there who are fearful about the future of our world passing to these young people, I say, “No worries , my dear, Gen Y is here. Thank goodness!”