“Women just might have something to contribute to civilization other than their vaginas.” – Christopher Buckley, Florence of Arabia
I eat dessert last. I want the sweetest, most scrumptious bite to linger long on my lips. When I know it’s going to be good, I don’t rush it. I take my time.
I treat books similarly to desserts. I’ll even read 3 pages a day (self-discipline for me), so the compelling story continues longer. I wait to read best-sellers until I feel receptive and ready to be changed by the story. There’s a moment where I know it’s time to start reading.
Half the Sky was published June 2010. There’s even a movie. I bought the book in February and finished reading it last night, 3 July.
The Eve of America’s Independence Day. Independence. Freedom. Liberty.
After imbibing the dozens of stories – compelling, tragic, and raw – that authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn tell, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced phsyical freedom. Because I’ve never experienced physical capitivity. Can there be freedom without captivity? I’ve never been raped, sold to a brothel, had my genitals mutilated, died in childbirth, been killed for honor, beat by my husband and male relatives. Like many of you reading, I’ve enjoyed a college education, mobility, a home without war on my doorstep, limitless possibility; ability to do, say, dress, come, go, study and play with little restriction as a grown woman.
I am rare among women. Even though “women hold up half the sky,” there are still about 3 million girls and women (a small number of boys) enslaved in the sex trade today (pg 10). The U.S. State Department reports “between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, 80 percent of them women and girls for the sex trade” (pg 10).
Birthed out of their decades of reporting for Times magazine, Nick & Sheryl draw stories of brokenness, dreams, and hope together for us readers. My heart broke. Then she shattered. And the next chapter, she soared alongside a life of triumph. My body ached to move, breathe, do something! Logisitics of what I can do bombarded my mind. How can I be an arm, holding up half the world, alongside the other 3.5 billions females? Ladies. Girls. Babies. Women.
It’s ironic to me that I finished reading on the Eve of Independence Day. Christ’s call to care for the widows and orphans, combined with ‘who so ever cares for the least of these . . .” sure seems like a call to focused on the marginalized. In this case – women.
Their crafty writing did not leave me feeling hopeless, yet incredibly inspired to make the difference in the life of a girl.
If you’re like me, you might need a spark to light your inner fire. So, go to your library tomorrow and borrow Half the Sky. Ask a friend to lend it to you. Download the e-book. Then read it.
Four Steps You can Take in the Next Ten Minutes:
- Go to www.globalgiving.org or www.kiva.org and open an account. Both sites are people-to-people, meaning that they link you directly to a person in need overseas, and this makes them an excellent way to dip your toe in.
- Sponsor a girl or a woman through Plan International, Women to Women International, World Vision, or American Jewish World Service. We ourselves are sponsors through Plan, and we exchange letters and have visited our children in the Phillippines, Sudan, and Dominican Republic. Sponsorship is also a way to teach your children that not all kids have iPods.
- Sign up for e-mail updates on www.womensenews.org and similar service, www.worldpulse.com. Both distribute information about abuses of women and sometimes advise on actions that readers can take.
- Join the CARE Action Network at www.can.care.org. This will assist you in speaking out, educating policy makers, and underscoring that the public wants action against poverty and injustice. This kind of citizen advocacy is essential to create change. ( pg 252)
The irony continues as I’m one who hesitates to advocate Westerners just throwing money at someone. I could write a book. Instead, I’ll recommend you read When Helping Hurts. I don’t think money fixes problems; I know micro-loans don’t always work; and foreign aid, is usually dead, even harmful to those it helps. I do believe that if we allow ourselves to get close, then ‘the poor’ will be among us. And we will change ourselves and grow with them. I genuinely, truly believe that through genuine, true relationship with people we listen, and find ways to support them in what they need or want.
As I contemplated my ‘freedom’ from oppression, slavery, sin, abuse, limitations, bodily mutilation, and lack of education, I’m recommitting myself. To being the change I wish to see in the world.
1)I’m going to give up buyin tea or coffee in restuarants. Instead, I’ll save the emalengeni & invest them in the education of women and girls through www.kiva.org 2)I’ll start with emailing 5 organizations (from the appendix) about their involvement in my area and how they may help people in my area. 3) I’m going to learn Phiwayinkhosi and Ncombile’s full story. I’m going to speak to their mother, and hear their stories. I’ll see how I might encourage them to stay in school.
“Would the world stand by if it were men who were dying just for completing their reproductive functions?” – Asha-Rose Migiro, UN Deputy Secretary General, 2007
I tell you so you can keep me accountable. I write this from a breezing, warm mountain in South Africa. No Swazis (that I know of) are reading this. So if I say I’ll do it, but never do, none of them will know. Ask me in 3 weeks. Encourage me. Please. Share ideas. And prayers. And stories of triumph. I’d love to journey with you on this.
What are your three steps to liberate girls and women locally and world-wide?