The Girl Effect (Half the Sky Intro) #sjbc

This post is part of the April Social Justice Book Club. This week we are discussing Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

The above video is from the organization The Girl Effect.

Conversation Questions for the Introduction:

Had you ever heard of The Girl Effect before reading the Introduction?

“Less than 1% of U.S. foreign aid is specifically targeted to women and girls.”
In light of the statistics chronicling atrocities committed against women and girls, what does this figure represent to you?

“The best estimate is that a little Indian girl dies from discrimination every four minutes.”
Why do you think the mothers participate in this kind of gender-based cruelty?

“Women aren’t the problem but the solution. The plight of girls is no more a tragedy than an opportunity.” What do you think the authors meant when they stated this as the central truth of the book?

Please share with us your responses to the questions above or any thoughts or questions you have about the the introduction of “the girl effect” in the comments section below.

The Social Justice Book Club is a project of Independence Rock Group: Center for Faith, Ethics, and Social Justice. Please consider supporting the Social Justice Book Club and our other projects. Find other posts about the Book Club and Half the Sky here.

Categories: Blog

4 replies »

  1. I spent two years working at USAID. I’m not going to say I’m an expert by any means, however the number is probably for programs targeted specifically for the benefit of women. In my time there and at a small office, I wasn’t aware of any programs that were specific for men, but I did know of a few for women. The beast of the budget is health, where it’s more of something for everyone. Human rights type of initiatives (and in this case – gender equality) as part of development is a reasonably new concept in the American Development Industrial Complex – at least when you compare to to the Europeans who’ve had it ingrained in their systems longer. The current number two at USAID, Don Steinberg, has made gender (and when they say gender – they refer to women’s rights) as a key initiative, and he was basically shoving it down everyone’s throat to integrate throughout the agency. The one thing I would note, is that their programs are intended to affect both men and women, which if run solely by many of the countries that these programs are done in would leave the latter out.

    • Josh, thanks for sharing your insights.

      I think this is why solution driven programs are so important. It is too easy to get caught up in abstractions which can distract us from actual human well-being and the conditions on the ground.

  2. Reading Half the Sky was critical for our organization as we developed our strategy to end female gendercide in India. Question #2 is essential to understand how to begin to change a culture that is eliminating up to 3 million of its female children each year.

    Rarely are Indian mothers actively engaged in deciding if their girl-baby lives or dies but almost always blamed for not birthing sons. The excessive demand for a bridal dowry by the groom’s parents is the driving factor for the cultural preference for sons and biased against girls. We have found that most young Indian mothers are grief-stricken by the killing of their daughters and exhibit many of the similar characteristics of battered women. Only after the death of several daughters do some birth moms began to participate or consent to the abortion of the girl baby fetus or murder of the newborn girl-child. Their protective maternal instinct to not allow their daughters to endure the same discrimination that they have endured seems to allow them to justify the killing of their daughters. Over and over we have been told that it is “better” to allow a short time of pain instead of a lifetime of suffering.

    If a forced abortion of the late term female fetus does not occur in many villages it becomes the responsibility of the midwife to kill the girl-baby shortly after her birth.

    International aid and government funding can be helpful but many times drives the problem deeper and more difficult to resolve. “Forced” compliance with new legislation has not been effective. These funds should be directed toward long-term initiatives like educating the girl-child or micro-finance opportunities for the poorest of the poor village women.

    Dan Blacketor
    The Rhema Project

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