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Half the Sky

Julianne Connors

Thursday night I attended a talk by Nicholas Kristof, coauthor of the book, Half the Sky. I had to go to the event for AXO, but I was actually really excited because I read the book this past summer and loved it. It also just so happens that Half the Sky was the Commons Reading this year.

Half the Sky is one of those books that once you pick it up, you can’t put down. At least it was for me. The book discusses many of the challenges facing women across the globe and argues that investing in women is one of the best ways to turn a country’s failing economy around, while giving hope to these women. While some of the stories are gruesome, the book definitely opened my eyes to all of the horrible things happening around the world and what can be done to change them. In many countries, if parents can only afford to send some of their children to school, they will send the boys. Also if their children get sick, they will take their boys to the doctor, but let the girls wait it out. I finished the book with a “I want to go to India!” kind of attitude, where 40% of the world’s poor live. To which my parents replied, “Uh, no you’re not!”.

Kristof speaking.

Listening to Kristof’s talk reminded me of all the stories in the book. Probably my favorite is one of a girl living in Africa whose parents couldn’t afford to send her to school. A church in Connecticut donated six goats through an aid organization and her family got one of them, which happened to be pregnant. The family sold the goats’ milk and had some cash to spare so they sent her to school. She turned out to be incredibly bright and made it all the way through high school, and graduated from a college in Connecticut. Her quote, which I find so awesome, was “I’m the luckiest girl in the world-and it’s all because of a goat!” The entire talk was so interesting, and it was cool to see a lot of people from the Nashville community there.

Half the Sky was also the Commons Reading this year, so the entire freshmen class read the book and discussed it in their VUcept groups in the fall. Two of my friends, Lucia and Miriam, actually took a class last spring for the Commons Reading. They had to read the book last year and created projects to help with the incoming class’ discussion of the book.

One of the most interesting things about Half the Sky is that in the last chapter of the book, they call for a women’s rights movement. They even list simple steps that anyone can take to help women around the globe today. They also made a PBS special and Kristof announced that he is starting to work on another book soon. I would definitely recommend this book and I’m so glad that I got to hear Kristof speak!

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