Monday, 15 March 2010

Half the Sky

The new book Half the Sky seems to be making waves already.

I have not read it, but I've read about it, and I'm looking forward to August, when the paperback version comes out. In the meantime, it's already caught my attention, and that of many other Christians who are concerned about how women are viewed.

We've often been told that 'women hold up half the sky'. At birth, the male/female ration is close to 50:50. But apparently, when govenments count the relative numbers of males and females later on, some of the women have disappeared. Where have they gone?

Half the Sky, which has become a New York Times bestseller, seeks to explore what it sees as our era's most pervasive human rights violation - the oppression of women. The authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sherl WuDunn (who are married to each other) explore how believing that women are inferior to men is causing women to disappear. It's already created a movement.

We all know that women are disproportionately impacted by poverty. But the claims are scary. Will they also be the catalyst for greater awareness and action? What I've read so far certainly suggests this.

In different cultures the customs, religious beliefs and prejuduces work diffferently: women are less likely to get medical help, less likely to be educated, and more likely to be trafficked, more likely to be raped and rejected, more likely to be killed because of 'honour'.

The good news story in the book is about organisations around the world which are helping to empower women.

Where is God in all this? The book is not a Christian one, but Christians have cause to be concerned about such abuses. But for some Christians, the disturbing question is: are some Christians actually contributing to such abuses? Are we part of the problem - or part of the answer?