Eye- opening, painful to read, yet brimming with hope, this book brings to light many issues facing women around the world today; issues such as forced prostitution, rape, maternal mortality, poverty, and illiteracy. Shocking accounts of gender inequality and unthinkable abuse will make you sit up and take notice, but stories of changes made in women’s lives with help from groups and individuals will make you want to cry and cheer and do something yourself.
One of the most important things to remember is that these aren’t just women’s issues. What husband or family or community or country can prosper and flourish when half the population is not only devalued, abused, and denied education and adequate health care, but is also not allowed to bring their unique gifts and talents and wisdom into manifestation? It is impossible. I have seen bits of ignorance and superstition in action, but I had no idea they were causing such massive damage around the world.
I loved reading stories of girls and women whose lives were transformed by education or by being rescued from prostitution, or by a small loan which, along with hard work, turned them into a successful businesswoman and community leader. The authors of this book, a married couple who have received the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, have learned so much about what works and what doesn’t when trying to tackle some of these issues, yet they stress the importance of flexibility and being open to what works best in different places and different situations.
Here is the final paragraph in the book: “The tide of history is turning women from beasts of burden and sexual playthings into full-fledged human beings. The economic advantages of empowering women are so vast as to persuade nations to move in that direction. Before long, we will consider sex slavery, honor killings, and acid attacks as unfathomable as foot-binding. The question is how long that transformation will take and how many girls will be kidnapped into brothels before it is complete and whether each of us will be part of that historical movement, or a bystander.”
Several ideas are given for steps we can take to help women around the world as well as web sites of organizations that support women. Yes, this is a serious, often unpleasant subject, but one I know we can’t ignore. This has to be one of the most important books you will ever read.