My grandmother was the eldest of many children born into a poor family in rural Ireland. There was no work to be had, and so a relative in the U.S. sponsored her sojourn across the Atlantic Ocean. As a teenager, she sailed into Ellis Island in New York City and found work as a seamstress. Had my Gramma Molly been born in another country, however, where poor women suffer exposure to sex trafficking, her life story would have unfolded quite differently.
I thought of her often while reading the stunning book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Pulitzer Prize winners, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. So many women around the world can survive and thrive if global citizens reach out. Such empowered women, with voices of their own as we read here, float the boats of everybody—other women, girls, boys, men, economies and societies. As Kristof and WuDunn argue, it’s time to remove our blinders and consider how we might help.
Many of us have similar grandmother or great-grandmother stories, don’t we? Gramma Molly supported her three children (including my father) during the Great Depression when her husband was out of work for a decade. She passed on the old family skill and taught me how to thread a needle. I suppose you might say she exposed me to Art – for a well-made garment is nothing other than a reflection of beauty.
Our heart is a muscle but it is also a ball of threads eager to entwine with others. Read this book and consider how you and a new sister in the world might weave together a brand, new life. (Your grandmother, great-grandmother, or great-great would be proud!)