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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Thursday, September 13, 2012 05:55 PM, by Melissa Shaub
I bought the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009), after attending an event for the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation (of which I'm now a proud volunteer). I won't lie—it was not always an easy book to read. The authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn lead you on a journey about why the oppression of women and girls around the world is THE MORAL CHALLENGE of the current century. You'll be angry, sad, confused, and heartbroken as you read actual stories of women fighting for economic empowerment and the right to education while, sometimes simultaneously, battling forced prostitution, gender-based violence, sex trafficking, and maternal mortality. The statistics are shocking:

  • According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth every day (one woman every 90 seconds).

  • In their book, Kristof and WuDunn estimate 3 million women and girls are currently enslaved in the sex trade around the world.

  • Gender-based violence ranks as the top public health crisis for women around the world today, according to the Half the Sky website. Women ages 15 to 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.

  • One answer to many of these problems is education, but 20% of primary school-age girls around the world (estimated at more than 37 million) are not in school.


There is hope. Bettie Locke once said she and the other founding members knew that creating Kappa Alpha Theta was not just for those first four, but that Theta would go on to help other women stay in school. Bettie said, "It was organized to help the girls win out in their fight to stay in college..." Now other girls and women around the world are fighting to attend school and have the same rights, opportunities, and protections afforded to men. I often remind myself that I am privileged for many reasons, one being my college education (around 6% of the world population has a college degree). It is also not lost on me that many women, including Bettie, came before me and fought for rights that I enjoy today. It seems to me that a great way to live that legacy is to turn around and help other women.

I hope you are like me and want to do something. Here's a list of things you, your friends, your chapter members, and your communities can do right now:

  • Read the book Half the Sky. Then pass it on to friends and family.

  • Become a supporter of the Half the Sky Movement.

  • Participate in the 30 Songs in 30 Days Campaign. Notable Thetas Amy Grant and Sheryl Crow are donating songs to help raise awareness. Amy's song will be posted on Sunday, September 16, and Sheryl's song on Monday, September 24. It's an easy way to support our fellow Thetas as well as a great cause.

  • Host a Half the Sky viewing party! The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation and the National Panhellenic Conference are calling on sorority women everywhere to host a viewing party on October 1 to learn about these issues affecting women and girls and learn how we can help. Visit Circle of Sisterhood website to register your event and access promotional material to use.


Have you read the book? Are you hosting a viewing party? Tell us about your activities in the Comments section below!

Melissa Shaub, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is the director of education and training for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and a charter Life Loyal member.