I volunteered to write for this blog and agreed to craft a personal reflection about the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. I then realized that I had to actually finish the book that had been collecting dust on my bookshelf. After meeting the sisters behind the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation last year and signing up to be a volunteer I quickly purchased the book, without fully understanding the depth of the stories I was about to dive into. After reading the first chapter I put the book down claiming that I was not “strong” enough to continue. And then in March I committed myself to 1) finishing the book and 2) writing about it. Deciding that I needed to put the book on my To-Do list every day, I then spent 30 minutes on an exercise bike, reading and pedaling.
I wouldn’t claim Half the Sky to be a book you read for pleasure, it’s a book you read for empowerment, movement, motivation and the chance to make a difference. As I turned the pages one by one and as my feet moved faster, I read about the lives of these young women. I could hear their cries as they were being cut and beaten; I felt the devastation and shame as urine ran down their legs because they had a fistula. My heart broke when I read about the 13 year-old girl being sold into the sex slave industry and then pimped out for the first time. Often times after the 30 minutes I’d get off the bike either fighting back tears or the urge to vomit after pedaling through the devastating reality of how women and girls are being treated across the world. Unfortunately, for most people in this country, it’s probably not that surprising to hear that females are being treated this way in third world countries. But, we often turn a blind eye to the oppression occurring in our country. The book dictates how young girls in the USA are being sold for sex in states across the country. Not only are women hitting the glass ceiling, but, they are also hitting floors and head boards as they are trying to run from pimps and/or their purchaser.
This oppression across the world is a silent epidemic. Women are being sold, beaten, cut, and killed all for sexual purposes or reasoning. Circumcising a young girl will keep her pure, but then in some parts of the world they take that same young girl and sell her body for profit as grown men crawl on top of her. All while no one talks about it. People give it an “ok” because it’s just their “culture” the way they do things in that home, that village, or that country. There are only small voices questioning the oppression, stating that “Hey, something doesn’t seem right here.” And these small voices are becoming louder because of non-profit organizations such as the Circle of Sisterhood have discovered a way to put an end to this cycle through Education. By taking the time to educate women, we can make a difference. Poverty rates go down, the number of girls being sold for sex goes down, and the voices of these young ladies are no longer silenced.
If you are someone who can’t fathom that these acts of cruelty are occurring in the world, buy the book. If you are someone who doesn’t feel that this a problem you need to be worried about, buy the book. If you are someone who wants to make a difference, buy the book. I will warn you, Half the Sky will take you on emotional journey through laughter and tears. However, at the end you will realize that we can change the world, one girl at a time….through Education. “After all, women are not the problem, they are the solution.”
Be sure to check out the trailer of the Half the Sky film debuting in October. Think about how you can mobilize action in your own community by hosting a viewing party, discussion group, web chat or other event to spread the message and call to action. Would you like us to publish your personal reflection on the book, share your thoughts with us at blog(at)circleofsisterhood.org.
This blog was written by Stacey Allan. Allan is currently serving as the Director of Greek Affairs at Muskingum University, where she spends her time advising sorority and fraternity men and women. A proud member of Gamma Phi Beta, Stacey joined the Circle of Sisterhood team after meeting the women in December 2011 at the AFA annual meeting. She is excited to be servings as part of the Campus Division and is looking forward to helping change lives through the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation.