There's a book that is attracting a lot of attention for its promotion of "the girl effect"--meaning that if social entrepreneurs invest in women and children in developing nations, there is a big pay-off. It is called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. (I have mentioned this book before on this blog.)
Though not written from a Christian perspective, it is still a provoking book and has some fair estimates of the work Christians are doing in this field. I recently reviewed it for Christianity Today--you can read that review on their site. Here is a synopsis:
Husband and wife journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn use Half the Sky to promote the idea that the key to fighting poverty and to unleashing economic success in developing nations is to economically empower women and girls.
Chapter by chapter, the authors introduce readers to individual women in various corners of the world who have overcome oppression, injustice, and abuse—and the social entrepreneurs who helped them to do so. Their central premise is not about women's rights as often defined in Western discussions, but outright and lethal disregard for the value of women and girls: "The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all of the wars of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in this routine 'gendercide' in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century."
From sex-selective abortions, "honor killings," acid attacks, bride burnings, sex trafficking, and forced prostitution to mass rape, genital cutting, needless maternal mortality, fistulas, and impediments to education and literacy, women and girls in the developing world face real trauma simply for being female.
- A Walk to Beautiful, about the hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, established by missionaries to provide free surgeries for fistula repair, primarily serving women who ruptured due to obstructive labor.
- Lumo, about the Christian-based HEAL Africa hospital in war-torn Goma, Congo, that also offers free fistula repair, primarily serving women who are victims of war rapes.
- Mrs. Goundo's Daughter, about the tradition of genital cutting among young Muslim girls in Mali and how one mother fought to protect her daughter.
- Afghan Star, about the oppression women in Afghanistan endure, framed through the Afghan equivalent of "American Idol."
- As We Forgive, a documentary about the reconciliation movement in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide.
- At the End of Slavery, a report about modern slavery that runs the gamut from child laborers to sex trafficking, was produced by the International Justice Mission.