Half the Sky: How to Change the World by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn - review by Caroline Moorehead

Caroline Moorehead

The Second Sex

Half the Sky: How to Change the World


Virago 328pp £12.99

When Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, husband and wife New York Times correspondents, began reporting on international affairs in the 1980s, the issue of violence against women was not high on their list of priorities. It was, as they write in their new book, a ‘fringe’ topic, not ‘serious’. But then, while working for the NYT in China around the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre, they happened to come across a study of child deaths. Thirty-nine thousand female Chinese babies, they discovered, were dying every year, not from malnutrition or disease, but from lack of the kind of care that was reserved for male babies. As Kristof and WuDunn put it: ‘We began to wonder if our priorities were skewed.’

Thus began a twenty-year interest in the abuse and victimisation of women, and in the denial of their rights. It has culminated in a book that is part reportage and campaigning and part facts and statistics. To marginalise half the world’s population, Kristof and WuDunn argue, is not

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