Half the Sky

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (250)

When I was in ninth grade, my sister ran into my room and threw a book at me. “Read this,” she demanded. “You’ll like it.” She had no idea what she had just started.

That fateful book was Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, which tells the stories of women in developing countries who, through education, public health, and microfinance, have turned oppression into opportunity. From the women in Rwanda who doubled their families’ income through microloans to the Pakistani girl who refused to allow her rapist to terrorize her and her family, these stories are both humbling and inspiring.

I found myself turning to these women, thousands of miles away, whenever times got tough, and remembered how resilient they had been in even the worst of situations. This book affected me deeply. Each time I finished reading it, I started right back over, desperate to understand what I could do to help. “Half the Sky” was groundbreaking. It didn’t sugarcoat anything. It directly addressed the many, many problems that women around the world encounter, simply because they are women.

This book taught me that no change is too small. The perseverance of one woman can lead to the education of many more. A single microloan can help a woman...

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