A Path Appears – Women and Children need our help

Our friend Debra (see link below) has written a review of the much-needed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn called “Half the Sky.” This is one of the toughest reads you will ever take on as it discusses how women are maltreated around the globe. In addition to how awful it is to the women and children who are subject to this maltreatment including rape, sex slavery, genital mutilation, fistula due to births before the body is able, and domestic violence, it discusses the economic detriment to those communities. The book is based on the Chinese proverb that women hold up half the sky, so if you treat them poorly, you are devaluing your economy, competing with one arm tied behind your back in a world that will leave you behind.


Kristof and WuDunn have followed up their first book with one called “A Path Appears,” which expands on these issues, but discusses how we can make a difference. We can find a path forward to help women, children and communities in need and how it will do the giver as much good as the receiver. Attached is a New York Times review which provides a review and summary of the book. I have yet to read this book, but have seen the two authors interviewed on PBS Newshour as they discuss how each of us can play a role in helping others.


An additional book worth reading on this subject is penned by former President Jimmy Carter called “A Call to Action.” It leverages further the work of Kristof and WuDunn, but brings the arguments home to America as well as speaking to the global problem. While we are only beginning to give notoriety to sexual abuse in the US military and on our college campuses after long ignoring the problems, while we are finally highlighting the impact and prevalence of domestic violence toward women that occurs in our society, we are still largely unaware that we have a non-inconsequential sex trafficking industry within America. We have sex slaves being brought in from other countries in addition to the women stolen from within our own communities.

I have read Carter’s book as well and find his arguments and anecdotes compelling. It is also a difficult, but must read. Carter has been one of the best ex-Presidents we have ever had. He has done more good for humanitarian causes and his voice is a powerful one and full of substance. We should heed his, Kristof and WuDunn’s messages and begin to better address the maltreatment of women.

Our world needs stronger positioning of women. We see the wonderful examples with Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, Christine LaGarde, Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Prime Minister of Denmark, to name only a few, but need more. When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, while not the first female, she was the most widely known ambassador of the US and made a huge difference to the issue of helping women.

But, we cannot wait on more women to get in power. We all need to see the wisdom of treating women and children fairly and as we would want to be treated. We all need to see that if we devalue women, we are limiting idea creation, market opportunities and good governance in our country and communities. We all need to see that treating a human being like property is not in keeping with the overarching messages of religious texts or answering well the Christian question of WWJD? What would Jesus do? He would treat women like he would want to be treated.

17 thoughts on “A Path Appears – Women and Children need our help

  1. Note to Readers: The term fistula is likely foreign to some readers, especially male readers. Here is link to WebMD describing what it entails for women in impoverished areas. http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/vaginal-fistula-topic-overview

    The key dilemma exposed in “Half the Sky” is young girls are impregnated before their bodies are ready and the delivered babies cause tearing in the birth canal, exposing urine and feces to the young girl’s vagina. If not remedied, infections occur, which is why it is a major problem in parts of the world with poor healthcare.

  2. Note to Readers: I was thinking of certain state legislators that want to avoid teaching our dirty laundry in America as it does not promote exceptionalism. I have written before about the inanity of that thought process, as you have to know your mistakes to avoid repeating them. We have far too many who do not recognize the challenges to this idea of American exceptionalism. The true answer is we are not exceptional. Our governmental construct is exceptional, but unfortunately it is being “manned” (intentional use of that word) by people who are more concerned with winning than governing and ignoring the issues of the day and our citizens are so mal-informed.

    That is why I mention Carter’s book as we need to recognize our problems with respect to the maltreatment of women here, as well as abroad. And, it is not helped by our unhealthy focus on entertainment and the constant barrage of women as sex objects. It does a disservice to women who are and can make a difference that do not try to look and dress like some of the entertainers of the day. We need to focus on women who are effective leaders as our idols. Young girls need to know that certain actions of stars are not good form and actually do more harm than good.

  3. The way woman are treated around the world in 2015 is hard to wrap your head around the world. It is sickening to think that these crimes against women/girls are daily practice.
    Chelsea Clinton is another advocate for girls and women, not to mention a wonderful roll model.
    Thanks to your friend for her quest to shine some light on this subject. It’s not easy for people to know of these horrors, because then we have to live with not acting.

  4. Note to Readers: My seventeen year old daughter took some issue noting that a woman should be able to wear what she wants. My daughter is wonderfully reflective on issues, more so than other teens at her school. We had a good conversation around this. I noted that we tend to value how people look in this country more so than their abilities. I responded if you want to be taken seriously, you need to look nice, but dress more in accordance with where you are going – you would not wear what some of our entertainers wear to work, e.g. I also noted much of our entertainment has glorified women as sex objects, which to me does girls a disservice.

    Let me know what you think? Am I all wet? Did I overstate my argument? Am I thinking too much like a protective father? Feedback is greatly appreciated.

  5. Thank you for speaking up and for the recommended reading. I’ve not read any of these (it’s hard to find anything written in English on this side of the country) but will keep it high on my wish list.

    People often look the other way when it comes to delicate issues, and we need to find a way to coax more people to step forward with compassion and support.

      • you are so right; a group of people were talking about dressing up for that event, etc, and i thought, ‘oh my .. oscars? dressing up? ‘ but then i looked at their starry eyes and the joy in their faces compared to whta they’v’e been facing w/the ocean chomping at their foundations, and then i suddenly had compassion..

        but overall, no, people need to shut off the televisions and rely on their senses one never has to look for to find someone who is not as well off, and if only with a smile, perhaps there’s a way to improve the quality of the day.. for both…

        we’ve talked about this before, but there are so many women who are scared to leave an abusive situation because they fear they can’t make it on their one.. or they want their children to have a home/food/school…. some of us can say, ‘hey.. you can do this…’

      • Z, you are right, people do need their escapism. We will likely watch as well. Yet, what troubles me is the relative time spent on these subjects versus more important ones. Here, our politicians count us being uninformed and one party wants to squelch education on our history of dissent (that is its own subject).

        Women are scared to leave for the reasons you cite, but also because of their low self esteem. With DV perpetrators all about power and control, they have stepped on a woman’s self esteem, where some are made to feel it is their fault and that they could not survive on their own. Both are falsehoods. The dilemma with the children is the perpetrator will eventually get around to them, so the mother needs to realize she is protecting her children by leaving with them.

        Thanks for your thoughtful comments. All the best, BTG (PS – best movie goes to “Selma”)

      • And some of them stay in an abusive relationship because their husbands have threatened to kill them — and the kids. I know of one such case.

      • Hugh, unfortunately the situation you know is not an isolated event. I hope she will heed encouragement to get help. Thanks for your comment, BTG

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