Human Rights Book Review – ‘Half the Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Human Rights Book Review – ‘Half the Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’

Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Half The Sky Review

Half the Sky by Kristoff and WuDunn is rollercoaster of a read

From the outset, we here at the HRBR were impressed by the high concentration of quality information presented in this book. Few stones appear left unturned in this work and few of our heartsrings were left unpulled.

The authors, Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wu Dunn are a pair of journalists and Pulitzer Prize winning authors that have bravely been covering many of the worlds big current events for decades – one being their extensive coverage of Tianammen Square massacres. Their marriage union is oft reflected in their amazing high quality works of collaboration. This book is certainly no exception.

If you are interested in feminism and gender equality and particularly as it applies to human rights in third world or less developed parts of the world, you are most assured of a rollercoaters ride of a read. You will, no doubt about it, travel to hell and back to your safely protected world (that’s so long as you are not reading this book from a country that the book itself covers).

The Chinese have a saying that ‘Women hold up half the sky’. Kristoff and Wu Dunn have not only used this as part of the title for this book, but clearly and most aptly demonstrate that the third world countries that don’t live by such a broad sweeping maxim, are most assuredly self limiting their own progress. In a world that is moving forward at such enormous pace, notwithstanding the temporary world financial crisis, it can easily be seen from their book, that to not enshrine gender equality is not just a basic human rights no no which is morally disastrous to the country in question, but also tantamount to guaranteeing ones own economic impotence. Countries such as China that have lived by their words have seen enormous prosperity for not just women, but to all sexes and walks of life. So very ironic that China can be viewed positively in some areas of human rights as a beacon of light, when their broader human rights shortcomings are so easily denounced.

This book is filled with stomach churning stories of human rights abuses, lack of basic healthcare and education. This has the effect of making the reader all the more outraged and disgusted if and when we juxtapose and contrast our own basic and most fundamental rights and freedoms which we so obviously take for granted, against the daily despair as depicted in this book of poverty, starvation, medical delinquency, beatings, rapes and tortures that female minds and bodies endure in so many countries across Africa, The Middle East and Asia.

An extremely well written work of inspiration, ‘Half the Sky’ is a book that we are happy to recommend. It will leave you sad, bewildered, grateful and furious. You will want to act and contribute to a better world, all of which the authors help facilitate. They do this by appealing to your sensibilities, calling you to act and then guiding you/us in a way that we all can help, so easily and right now.

Get this book now – it is a must read.

Where to pick up a copy:

Amazon US, EU/UK, Canada.


Here are just some of the accolades others are giving ‘Half The Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’

An unblinking look at one of the seminal moral challenges of our time. This stirring book is at once a savage indictment of gender inequality in the developing world and an inspiring testament to these women’s courage, resilience, and their struggle for hope and recovery. An unexpectedly uplifting read.
Khaled Hosseini, author, The Kite Runner

The stories that Kristof and WuDunn share are as powerful as they are heartbreaking. Their insight into gender issues and the role of women in development inspires hope, optimism, and most importantly, the will to change. Both a brutal awakening and an unmistakable call to action, this book should be read by all.
Melinda Gates.

Half the Sky is a passionate and persuasive plea to all of us to rise up and say ‘No more!’ to the 17th-century abuses to girls and women in the 21st-century world. This is a book that will pierce your heart and arouse your conscience. It is a powerful piece of journalism by two masters of the craft who are tireless in their pursuit of one of the most shameful conditions of our time.
Tom Brokaw

If you have always wondered whether you can change the world, read this book. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written a brilliant call to arms that describes one of the transcendent injustices in the world today–the brutal treatment of women. They take you to many countries, introduce you to extraordinary women, and tell you their moving tales. Throughout, the tone is practical not preachy and the book’s suggestions as to how you can make a difference are simple, sensible, and yet powerful. The authors vividly describe a terrible reality about the world we live in but they also provide light and hope that we can, in fact, change it.
Fareed Zakaria, author, The Post-American World

It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book about one of the most serious problems of our time: the worldwide abuse and exploitation of women. In addition to describing the injustices, Kristof and WuDunn show how concerned individuals everywhere are working effectively to empower women and help them overcome adversity. Wonderfully written and vividly descriptive, Half the Sky can and should galvanize support for reform on all levels. Inspiring as it is shocking, this book demands to be read.
Anne Rice

I think it’s impossible to stand by and do nothing after reading Half the Sky. It does what we need most, it bears witness to the sheer cruelty that mankind can do to mankind.
George Clooney

I read Half the Sky in one sitting, staying up until 3 a.m. to do so. It is brilliant and inspirational, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops and mountains. It vividly illustrates how women have turned despair into prosperity and bravely nurtured hope to cultivate a bright future. The book ends with an especially compelling ‘What you can do’ to exhort us all to action.
Greg Mortenson, author, Three Cups of Tea

Women facing poverty, oppression, and violence are usually viewed as victims. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky shows that unimaginable challenges are often met with breathtaking bravery. These stories show us the power and resilience of women who would have every reason to give up but never do. They will be an inspiration for anyone who reads this book, and a model for those fighting for justice around the world. You will not want to put this book down.
Angelina Jolie
<strong>Khaled Hosseini</strong>, <em>author, The Kite Runner</em><strong>Melinda Gates</strong><strong>Tom Brokaw</strong><strong>Fareed Zakaria</strong>, <em>author, The Post-American World</em><strong>Anne Rice</strong><strong>George Clooney</strong><strong>Greg Mortenson</strong>, <em>author, Three Cups of Tea</em><strong>Angelina Jolie</strong>

Where to pick up a copy of Half The Sky:

Amazon US, EU/UK, Canada.

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The Nile - New Zealand's Largest Online Bookstore - Over 1.5 Million Book Titles

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Is Jean Allain a slave to the study of slavery? – book review – The Slavery Conventions: The Travaux Preparatoires of the 1926 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention (Martinus Nijhoff, 2008)

Posted on May 11, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , |

Jean Allain is one of the worlds foremost experts on the international law of slavery. Some would argue, it is his lifes work.

One thing is certain, he is one of the few legal scholars in history who has had the steadfastness to dig into the bowels of various UN libraries worldwide to put together the pieces of the highly elusive slavery conventions puzzle. Anyone that knows anything of this complex area of law knows that the slavery conventions, and what is considered the prevailing overall law on the subject, was not something constructed overnight or even in a year but over many decades, under the trusteeship of both the the UN and seminally, the League of Nations.

Jean Allain - The Slavery Conventions
With his book ‘ The Slavery Conventions’, Jean Allain has donned the cap of a forensic researcher to find us all the relevant working documents and negotiations history on the subject. He has analysed it with his sound scholarly skill and applied it, with a plethora of caselaw and legislative reference, for modern context. This work will inject clarity to the murky and ambiguous interpretation of the incongruous material of the past.
While I do not always agree with Allain’s views on the Middle East conflict, I commend his work highly on this subject and in turn recommend this text as an addition/acquisition to any human rights library or collection of works pertaining to this very important subject. Any human rights enthusiast will appreciate its worth on perusal.

The main Slavery Conventions brought together in this work are:
The 1926 League of Nations Slavery Convention
The 1953 Protocol Amending the Slavery Convention
The 1956 Supplementary Convention

They should be considered in tangent with:
The 2000 Palermo Protocol on the prevention, suppression and punishment of trafficking in persons;
The 2005 Copuncil of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in human beings

The limited print run from last year seems to be in very short supply. You may however secure/backorder your copy here: US, UK/EU and CANADA.

Humorous postscript – this piece by Elisabeth Wynhausen and Natalie O’Brien appeared in the Australian newspaper at the time of the High Court Case of Wei Tang, which incidentally considered the meaning of slavery. Excerpt concerning this book below.

‘A faint but unmistakable air of showmanship pervades the resulting proceedings. The plummy-voiced beetle-browed Mr Solicitor, as Bennett is called, doesn’t just look and sound like a character out of Rumpole, he actually resembles John Mortimer. Now and then an observer new to the High Court may wonder if the judges and these learned friends are playing a game called “Who’s got the best treaty, then?”

While Hayne quotes “the Official Journal of the League of Nations reporting on the 92nd Session of the council of the league for July 1936”, Brett Walker SC, the counsel for HREOC, quotes a book by a certain Monsieur Allain. Holding up the work in question, he says: “I understand I have the only copy in the country.”

The formidable performances almost seem to obscure the facts of the case.’

Michael Simon for the Human Right Book Review

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