Stunned, unsettled and inspired after reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, I built this site to give context to the greatest human rights violations of our lifetimes. I'm Caitlin Vlastakis Smith, and this is a portion of my capstone project from Elon University's Interactive Media graduate program. I'm bringing forward snippets of content from the book to raise awareness and encourage anyone fighting global injustices, such as poverty, slavery, violence and terrorism, to gain a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead by reading Half the Sky. Your world will change. Mine certainly has.


"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."

- George Bernard Shaw

"In the 19th century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century, the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world."

- Half the Sky (xvii)

"I started fighting and crying out so that he couldn't succeed. I resisted so much that they (the brothel owners) had to return the money to him. And then they beat me mercilessly, with a belt, with sticks, with iron rods…they turned the stereo up loud to cover the screams."

- Meena Hasina,Half the Sky (5)

"Those who start out enslaved often accept their fate eventually and sell sex willingly, because they know nothing else and are too stigmatized to hold other jobs...Rescuing girls from brothels is complicated and uncertain. It's sometimes impossible, and that's why it is most productive to focus efforts on prevention and putting brothels out of business...never give up. Helping people is difficult and unpredictable, and our interventions don't always work, but successes are possible, and these victories are incredibly important."

- Half the Sky (45)

"Hawa was gang-raped and beaten...her friends carried her to a clinic run by Doctors of the World. Two French nurses immediately began caring for her injuries, but several truckloads of police stormed the clinic, pushed aside the French nurses who tried valiantly to resist, and burst in on Hawa. They dragged her out of the clinic and carried her to prison, where she was chained to a cot by an arm and leg. Her crime? Fornication, for by seeking treatment she was acknowledging that she had engaged in sex before marriage, and she did not provide the mandatory four adult male Muslim eyewitnesses to prove that it was rape."

- Half the Sky (83)

"The brutality inflicted on women is particularly widespread, cruel, and lethal. These attitudes are embedded in culture and will change only with education and local leadership. But outsiders have their supporting role to play, too, in part by shining a spotlight on these regressive attitudes in an effort to break the taboo that often surrounds them."

- Half the Sky (67)

"Maternal health is persistently diminished as a "women's issue." Such concerns never gain a place on the mainstream international agenda, and never gain sufficient resources. Maternal deaths in developing countries are often the ultimate tragic outcome of the cumulative denial of women's human rights...Women are not dying because of untreatable diseases. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving."

- Half the Sky (116)

"One out-of-the-box way to reduce pregnancies is to subsidize school uniforms for girls. That keeps them in school longer, which means that they delay marriage and pregnancy until they are better able to deliver babies. A South African study found that giving girls a $6 uniform every 18 months increased the chance that they would stay in school and consequently significantly reduced the number of pregnancies they experienced."

- Half the Sky (103)

"Investment in girls' education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world."

- Lawrence Summers, Former Chief Economist of the World Bank