Thursday, September 22, 2016

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women WorldwideHalf the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book ties in really well Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo. I think having a familiarity with the case studies in developing countries is a really good background before reading this book. One of the points it tries to make is that the case studies clear up the difference between ideologically believing in something as a liberal or conservative or whatever, and actually TESTING the proposed solutions on the ground. That's one of the reasons this book emphasizes the success of local people or at least foreign people that are present locally in dealing with these issues as superior to just blinding sending money-- though money is also needed obviously.

There's a ton of research that the authors used on a wide range of issues to move their argument forward that change is achievable and necessary for both the volunteers and the victims. This is a carefully thought out book, and the authors do not limit themselves by what is typically considered "politically correct" or of a particular ideology, but rather limit themselves to what is backed by the research and studies.

I don't consider myself closed off to the general suffering in the world. I read the newspaper and pay attention to international news. While I was familiar with a lot of the issues covered in the book, I was surprised and horrified to see them linked so closely. I was especially saddened and horrified by the opening chapters on modern day sex slavery. I think the authors did their job really well which is that I feel motivated to make some positive change though I need to think about how to get more involved.

PS. I read a lot of the criticisms of this book before writing my review and I'm honestly puzzled. A lot of the criticisms appear to just be a mischaracterization of something that Kristoff and WuDunn said in the book. Some of the other criticisms boil down to a reader not agreeing with something or other the author stated, which is not typically a reason I would lower my rating of a book. I'm seeking to take in other perspectives when I read. I want to expand my own understanding of different views of problems and solutions. If I only wanted to know what I think about an issue I could talk to myself and my little group of like-minded friends, though the reality is that Kristoff and WuDunn and the many people they interviewed and the authors they read for this book have a lot more experience in the international development arena than negative commenters or me.

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