This chapter discusses the life and business venture of a Chinese born woman named Zhang Yin who made billions in the paper exporting industry. Zhang Yin created a business of collecting and, for a small fee, buying America’s scrap pieces of paper and shipping them to China. There was a paper shortage in China creating an opportunity of great profit for Zhang Yin and her business. Since many of the large cargo ships carrying toys from China often returned empty she was able to ship the scrap paper back to China for little money. It has been reported that six of the ten richest self-made women are Chinese, which reflects their now equal playing field for women with their model of gender equality.
The benefit of such barriers being dismantled promotes financial gains for both men and women alike. Talking about gender equality, a discussion about how to alleviate thousands of years of traditions emerged in the text. The emancipation of women in China lends itself to the title of the book when Mao proclaimed that all women “hold up half the sky.”
Even with such sudden high praise to women, China still has issues within stemming from the one child birth rate. Many women get abortions when an ultrasound shows the child is female. This cessation of pregnancy has caused many poor men to be unable to marry and will eventually cause problems further down the road for the country.
It’s very interesting to learn the amazing influence that women have had on history and being a part of it, even when they are hidden behind the scenes. Zainab Salbi grew up in Baghdad in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war where her and her family worked closely for Saddam Hussein. Zainab described Hussein as a poisonous gas that they all inhaled and eventually it will kill them. Zainab reluctantly moved to the United States to marry a man who her emancipated mother had forced her to marry. After an abusive marriage ended in rape, Zainab walked out to be on her own and carry her secret connection to Hussein. While attending college and remarrying she discovered a Time Magazine article about women being raped in rape camps by Serbian military men. After an emotional outpouring Zainab founded Women for Women International which gave women of abuse a way to get help. It was after talking with women about her own “embarrassing” stories of rape and abuse that Zainab finally realized that she too had to share her secrets. In a discussion with her dying mother, Zainab learned that the arranged marriage was done to protect her from becoming one of Saddam Hussein’s many mistresses.
I find it very interesting and especially eye opening to read the struggles of women world wide. Such issues are something that are often times hidden and not talked about. As an American female I have not had to deal with such tragedies. Watching the video about Mukhtar and her struggle to overcome the horrific tragedy of rape that she had to deal with was quite unbelievable. It is hard to fathom that such things still occur in the world. Seeing Mukhtar stand up and make a difference instead of taking her own life to restore her family’s reputation made me see the strength in women. Mukhtar not only bettered herself but she created a place for women like her to seek safety. I felt a great respect for Mukhtar when it was explained that she has even reached out to educate the children of her rapists. Mukhtar did not give up and accept her fate as a woman scorned she stood up to better herself and her community.
Reading Half the Sky and watching the videos on Muhktar and the killing of baby girls has really made the issues of the world seem more real. It’s one thing to read in a book about the struggles, but to then watch and see the remains of babies being found in trash cans is something could have never prepared myself for.
The stories in Half the Sky and of Muhktar restored my faith in humanity that good can come from struggle but then to see the tragedy in Pakistan I felt an overwhelming feeling of disgust. No one has the right to take the life of anyone, let alone the life of an innocent, defenseless child. I look at the wrapped up remains of the infants and imagine one could have been a doctor, another a teacher or even a great leader. The potential of those small babies was taken from them before they even had a chance at life. It is repulsive that such acts occur in a world where so many couples long to have a child to call their own.
How could someone create a life only to take it? I just can’t wrap my mind around how any life should be worth more than another life.