Last night I had the opportunity to hear Nicholas Kristof speak on his book Half the Sky - Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. (http://www.halftheskymovement.org/) If you haven’t heard him speak in person (or on TV or YouTube), you are missing an incredibly articulate and inspiring person with a powerful message. He talked about how he believes the moral challenge of our time is gender equality in the developing world. (And after listening to him, I would agree.)
I was alternately shocked and inspired last night. Some of the statistics he shared are staggering:
- The equivalent of five jumbo jets worth of women die in labor each day.
- There are between 60 –100 million ‘missing’ females in the world, due to gender discrimination (such as selective abortions, withholding food and medical care for girls, etc.)
- In the last 50 years more girls have been killed than all the men who died in battles of the entire twentieth century.
But he also shared uplifting stories of transformation where, when given an opportunity, women or girls transform their lives, their family’s lives, even their villages for the better. Although the sheer breadth and scope of the problems seem overwhelming, and better suited for governments or large organizations to tackle, each of us can make a difference.
He told the Hawaiian fable about the child on the beach covered with thousands of starfish, who was picking them up and throwing them back in the ocean. When asked why he was throwing them back, since he couldn’t possible make a difference with so many of them, he replied as he threw another back “it made a difference to that one”. We might not be able to conquer the issues on our own, but each of us can make a difference.
"I AM ONLY ONE, BUT STILL I AM ONE. I CANNOT DO EVERYTHING, BUT STILL I CAN DO SOMETHING. AND BECAUSE I CANNOT DO EVERYTHING I WILL NOT REFUSE TO DO THE SOMETHING I CAN DO." – Helen Keller