Half the Sky, written by New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, talks about the oppression of women - especially through sexual crimes - and their importance in the development of an economy and of a society. At times, it can be pretty difficult to read due to the heart-wrenching stories of gruesome sexual abuse of young girls in brothels or by family members. However, despite the honest brutality of the book, I think it is an important book to read and to be aware of.
I recently completed graduate work in international economic development, but I'll be the first one to admit that solving a country's poverty issues is quite ambitious, not to mention incredibly difficult. As I finished my higher education, I came to the realization that I was very aware of the complicated issues of poverty but still had a lot of questions about how to address those problems and come up with probable solutions. Certainly all the answers aren't present in this book, but it is a great starting point.
Promoting girls education and providing greater opportunities for women leads to a more democratic, open societies and taking advantage of the economic capabilities of half the population. Kristof cites China and other Asian countries who have expanded women involvement, rights, and freedoms in society that is correlated with strong economic growth. Unfortunately, many of the horrific stories of sexual abuse took place in Islamic countries. The authors do an admirable job of exploring the religious aspects and how religion plays a part in women rights -- including Islamic and Christianity.
This is an important book to read for someone who is interested in int. economic development, international affairs, or human rights and I think it is incredibly necessary to be aware of. Working for expanded girls education may be reap the most benefits of economic development and promoting peace in developing countries. There is a lot more to discuss about this book. Please read it for yourself and I would love the opportunity to talk to more people about this topic/book.