Today we have a post from incoming freshman, Drew Petrushka. Drew is from Johnstown, OH (close to Columbus) and intends to major in International Affairs with a plan to concentrate in Asian Studies at the Elliot School. If you would like to be our next guest blogger just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.
Half The Sky is an excellent read for many reasons. Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have constructed a work that is inspirational on many levels, focusing on the successes of individuals and organizations alike in the face of poverty and sexual inequality abroad. It examines the problem of sexual inequality in the context of the cultures in which it is most apparent, showing that it often stems from ancient tradition which remains largely unquestioned by the men or women which inhabit these societies. Finally, it advocates grassroots education for women, education that enables them to contribute to their societies and, ultimately, elevate these societies. Such education is also one of the best channels through which to end the unjust traditions of sexual inequality which pervade these cultures. Young women and men who are educated in schools similar to the ones described in Half The Sky can interact as equals and mature without acquiring the traditional beliefs that only men are the leaders of society and are allowed to abuse their wives and other women. In addition, members of both sexes can be educated on the dangers of unprotected sexual activity, as noted on page 141. Such education leads to greater condom use, and in turn to fewer pregnancies and lower rates of HIV and AIDS transmission. Establishing educational opportunities for women in these societies is far more effective than changing the laws of these societies–sexist sentiments become ingrained in the members of these societies as they mature, and therefore a personal approach is needed if such a patten is to be avoided in the future.
While Half The Sky nobly aims to rectify gender inequality and is an inspirational read, it was also quite refreshing for me, a male Catholic. Rather than assign all of the blame for gender inequality on men and harp on the counterproductive effects of conservative and religious opposition to birth control with regards to sexually transmitted infections which afflict women, Half The Sky shows that both men and women (though more often men) are to blame for forced prostitution, honor rapes and killings, genital cutting, and social inequality. It also highlights many successful religious efforts in societies where gender inequality is most atrocious, along with secular movements to empower women in these societies. It concludes by encouraging all members of its audience–male, female, religious or not–to join the cause of empowering women worldwide, for the betterment of these women, their families, communities, and societies–and ultimately our world.
Needless to say, I highly recommend that each of my classmates, as well as anyone privileged enough to live in a society where men and women enjoy the same opportunity, to read Half The Sky and to become part of the movement to end gender inequality.