My freshman year of college I read a book that changed my life that involved microcredit, grassroots movements with greater opportunities for women, and a married couple who won a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. The book was suggested by my male English professor who suggested that we read Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. (Much respect for Dr. Kenneth Sammond!)


Half the Sky, written in 2009, is divided into fourteen chapters which cover fourteen essential facts and anecdotes that prove that the most effective way to fight global poverty is to let women unleash their potential. The first half of the book will be covered in this article, and the other half will be covered next #AlphaFemaleFriday.


Both articles will detail how you can help in just ten minutes on the internet!

1)      CHAPTER ONE – Emancipating Twenty-First Century Slaves

India, Pakistan, and Iran – countries with sexually conservative societies with men who rarely sleep with their girlfriends. Instead, they find sexual satisfaction and relieve their frustration with prostitutes.

China, Brazil, and sub-Saharan Africa – prostitution is widespread and mostly voluntary since girls are driven by economic pressure to provide for themselves and their families.

3 reasons why sex slavery has worsened in the past few decades:

  1. The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and Indochina since, although capitalism has created more market potential, there has also been a greater demand for female flesh.
  2. Globalization allows for easier access to the global sex trade.
  3. In Asia and Africa, there is an ongoing legend that AIDS can be cured by sex with a virgin.3509a93b52ac24b7c0b3e422e453010e

2)      CHAPTER TWO – Prohibition and Prostitution

Realistically, prostitution cannot be banned. Instead, suggestions have been made that prostitution should be legalized and regulated to follow a “harm reduction” model. However, that legalize-and-regulate method hasn’t worked well in areas where prostitution in coerced since these areas have weak governments. Crackdowns need to be made where social services can step in with job retraining and drug rehabilitation.


3)      CHAPTER THREE – Learning to Speak Up

In both developed and developing countries, women and girls of all ages must learn to speak up. They cannot stand idly by and just grin and bear their oppression, which is a way of thinking that they are drilled into behaving from the day that they are born. Girls must be educated to know that sexual humiliation and coercion is wrong. Being abused is never, and I repeat NEVER, the victim’s or the survivor’s fault.


4)      CHAPTER FOUR – Rule by Rape

The change agents in cultures of oppression are not foreign entrants so much as locals who begin grassroots movements. Rape is not only caused by individual rapists, but also by an entire culture of sexual predator mentality. Still, changes must be made by local individuals—one by one.


5)      CHAPER FIVE – The Shame of “Honor”

The paradox of honor killings: moral societies committing the ultimate immorality. Women are killed because they are no longer chaste virgins or they have behaved immodestly, even if they were raped.

6)      CHAPTER SIX – Maternal Morality—One Woman a Minute

Maternal health still requires dire attention in developing countries. Fistulas for women were once common in the Western world before the development of improved technology.

7)      CHAPTER SEVEN – Why Do Women Die in Childbirth?

In developing countries, there are four main reasons why women die in labor.

1)      Biology – humans are the only mammals that require assistance in birth.

2)      Lack of Schooling – education leads to learning more methods of family planning and a good education is associated with an increased use in hospitals, smaller families, and greater contraception.

3)      Lack of Rural Health Systems – shortage of doctors in rural and remote areas.

4)      Disregard for Women – clear correlation between countries where women are marginalized and countries with high maternal mortality.



1)      Visit www.globalgiving.org or www.kiva.org and open an account. Both sites are P2P (people-to-people). The site www.givology.com initially focused on China and has expanded to India and Africa.

2)      Sponsor a girl or woman via Plan International, Women for Women International, World Vision, or American Jewish World Service.

3)      Sign up for e-mail updates on www.womennews.org and www.worldpulse.com

4)      Join the CARE Action Network at http://www.can.care.org






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