Monday, January 18, 2010

Half The Sky

Welcome to Citizen Inspired! Angela and I are thrilled to provide a creative forum for people around the world who are passionate about human rights, environmental sustainability, and global progress.

We decided to launch our blog on Martin Luther King Day because we believe in Dr. King’s peaceful and incredibly courageous fight for justice. The spirit of the civil rights movement doesn’t lie dormant in history. It’s today. It’s the here and now. It is, in a word, imperative.

That being said, I couldn’t think of a better inaugural post than one about the new book Half The Sky, by New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof and his colleague (and wife) Sheryl WuDunn. Both Pulitzer Prize-winning international journalists, they met in China while covering Tiananmen Square, and have since spent most of their careers traveling around the globe, reporting from some of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

Over the years, they’ve met dozens of women and girls who have suffered – and continue to suffer -- unimaginable abuse because of cultural and political systems that deny women basic human rights. Bearing witness to stunningly brave real-life characters, the book is an unsentimental yet passionate call-to-arms; its theme -- that the fight for women must be treated with the same urgency and persistence as the fight to abolish slavery. And when you read the stories in Half The Sky, you’ll agree.

The irony here is that although women in the international development community have been fighting these systems for over twenty years, it took a celebrity journalist – who also happens to be a white guy from Oregon – to put it on the mainstream radar. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who got people to listen; it just matters that they are.

The bottom line is this: when women can’t get access to health care or education; when they die unnecessarily during childbirth or from preventable diseases; when they are not afforded the same economic opportunities as men; when they are sold into slavery, entire nations suffer. The world suffers. Dr. Martin Luther King understood this fundamental truth.
Buy the book, join the movement, and learn how you can help by visiting the official website. You can also read an excerpt from the book, check out relevant articles, and watch some multimedia presentations in this special issue of the New York Times Magazine.

“Women hold up half the sky.” -- Chinese Proverb