The book “Half the Sky” introduces an idea that education is the key to ending global poverty worldwide. The title of the book comes from the founding father of the Republic of China, Mao Zedong, meaning “women hold up half the sky”; unfortunately, millions of these women are living in poverty.
Women make up half of the world’s population, yet more than half of these women are more likely to have an unequal place in society. These women are more likely to be poverty-stricken in these communities than men and are excluded from the public domain which leads to domestic violence.
Because of the inequality placed on women living in poverty in developing nations women tend to not have access which is a key aspect of society. Humans need to have access to healthcare, job opportunities, and basic human rights like clean water and food. In order to fight global poverty, an emphasis of education and access is key to bring an end to poverty and the pain these communities suffer from on a daily basis.
Accordingly, Ph.D. student Katie Conrad at the University of Tennessee believes that women need access to resources in these developing countries where there is also a lack of education for these women. Conrad is a teaching associate for child and family studies at the university, and has based her research in Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender as well as family studies.
Furthermore, Conrad’s area of interest is creating courses for first-year students on campus designed to educate not just women, but men, about sex, dating violence, alcohol and rape culture awareness. She feels as though teaching women in society cannot be done without reaching women globally and stated “education is the major form of empowerment and is a good place to start.”
In particular to teaching women’s studies courses in these devolving countries, Conrad remarks that “being educated on their culture and maintain cultural sensitivity to understand what issues they face” would be a good place to start to bringing education to women in those areas. Conrad believes that women in developing countries need not just access to basic resources but access to support when in an abusive situation. In particular, community support systems are needed to help cope with domestic violence in their society.
In addition, both Conrad and the authors of “Half the Sky” understand that bringing access to resources like female education can help improve all corners of the world and drastically reduce poverty. Therefore the book introduces three steps to bring access to these areas. The first step would be a $10 billion effort over five years to educate girls around the world and reduce the gender gap in education.
The second step would be for the United States to sponsor a global drive to iodize salt in poor countries to prevent tens of millions of children from losing approximately 10 IQ points each as a result of iodine deficiency while their brains are still being formed in the uterus; finally, the third step would be a 12-year, $1.6 billion project to eradicate obstetric fistula while laying the groundwork for a major international assault on maternal mortality.
The need to stress issues like female education are indeed crucial to develop of not only developing nations but our own nation at home.
– Rachel Cannon
Sources: Vialogue, University of Tennessee
Photo: Staci Jae Johnson