How to Raise a Nation’s GDP

It was Sunday evening, May 15th, and I was finishing up my first weekend of being completely done with the Spring 2016 semester, and my first year at Washburn. Sitting there in my newly arranged living room (that can now seat four comfortably), I finished reading the last page of Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

It was one of the most eye-opening, and important pieces of work that I have ever read.  I’m so far behind, too, as this book came out in 2009.  Why hasn’t anyone recommended this to me before now?

Educate Women


That’s the simple answer to the title of this post, but the next question is a lot more difficult to answer on a global level than you realize: How do we educate women?

The authors do a great job of telling amazing stories of individuals, sometimes absolutely heartbreaking. They realize the importance of story telling over giving you the statistics of how horrible conditions are for women worldwide. Whether you agree with our psychology or not, we react more to stories of the hardships of an individual person than we do about a statistic that hundreds of thousands of people are suffering.

You will get sick to your stomach. You will get angry. At times, you will cry for joy.

The book will throw you head first into the world of forced prostitution and sex trafficking, and how although more prominent elsewhere, it is happening in your own backyard.

You will learn about the importance of maternal health on a global scale, and how horrible the U.S. is in this category as a developed nation. We have no excuse.

You will learn how iodizing salt is one of the cheapest ways of educating kids, and keeping them in school. Seriously. I’m not going to tell you how iodizing salt can accomplish this here because you should read it. Seriously.

You will read about some truly remarkable people and organizations already doing things that can help.

How can you help? The first and maybe the last step for you is simply to educate yourself, and read the book. Watch the documentary. Whatever. If you are informed, you can talk about it, and by talking about it, someone else may move to a further step.

A Chinese proverb says that “Women hold up half the sky.”  What is sad is that this has never actually been true, because men have never let them.  Men have kept them under foot and have “clipped their wings” at an early age so to speak, which reminds me, you should also read I am Malala, a book that I borrowed that phrase from. The world will be a better place if we take the necessary steps so this is true in every possible sense.

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