#322 – Terri Ashmore: "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"

Terri Ashmore recently wrote the below column for the Basilica of St. Mary (Minneapolis MN) Church Bulletin.
A discussion of this book will be held at the Basilica on Sunday, January 30, at 1 p.m. in the Mother Teresa Hall. Panelists include experts from the Humphrey Institute, Human Rights Watch, and Advocates for Human Rights. It promises to be a rich conversation about an important book on an important issue.
Terri Ashmore
Do you like to read? “Seattle Reads” was an experiment tried in cities around the country. Seattle chose a book and encouraged everyone to read it. As we explore Global Stewardship, we’d like to challenge you to our own version of “The Basilica Reads.”
Our global team volunteers selected and read the book – “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” written by Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for their coverage of China as New York Times correspondents.
Once I started reading Half the Sky, I could hardly put it down, and I still can’t get some of the stories out of my mind. The title is from a Chinese proverb – “Women hold up half the sky.” The book jacket describes the authors as “our guides as we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there.”
Half the Sky is an easy read, because it is a book of stories. We meet Ann and Angeline, Saima and Roashaneh and many other women and girls. The authors share facts and figures, and go on to put names and faces together with the stories of women and girls impacted by incredible poverty, oppression and violence. They honestly describe successes and failures. I read the newspaper and watch the news, but really hadn’t absorbed the magnitude of the impacts of poverty and violence around the world until I read Half the Sky. The book doesn’t pull punches about the violence and despair, but what I walked away with was a sense of hope. Things can change. Remarkably, a microloan of $25 or even a $65 really can change the lives of women, their families and their communities. I learned about the difference a uniform can make for a girl to stay in school and how staying in school can positively change the entire course of a girl’s life. Simple things to us . . . but life changing in some parts of the world.
Please join the Global Stewardship Team asks to explore issues the difference microfinance and education can make in changing lives of women, girls and communities. Read Half the Sky, and if not the whole book, take a look at Chapter 10, Investing in Education, and Chapter 11, Microcredit – the Financial Revolution. If this captures your imagination, Chapter 14 offers some practical suggestions about what you can do.
In the busyness of everyday life, please take a moment to open you minds, open your hearts, and consider what our Catholic faith calls us to as we think about women and children around the world.
Half the Sky – Book Discussion with Expert Panel
1:00 pm, Sunday, Jan. 30th – Basilica’s Lower Level