In recent years, there has been renewed journalistic and literary interest in the specific challenges women face worldwide and the ways in which they overcome them. The following books, which range from biographies to essays and case studies, tackle the topics of gender-related education and development in unique and riveting ways.

  • Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Greg Mortenson founded and directed schools for women in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, in this book, chronicles his motivation, the obstacles he faced, and the ways in which he sought to innovate in the field of women’s education in difficult areas. The sequel, Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, discusses the expansion of this project, as well as non-traditional approaches to women’s education in the same part of the world. There is also a children’s edition of Three Cups of Tea and the website that accompanies the book contains a tool kit with which readers can support the initiatives.
  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book contains case studies, interviews and unique profiles of women from all corners of the world, ranging from east Asia to sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. In addition to their powerful stories, the book showcases gender-sensitive responses to poverty, development and the need for education and women’s empowerment. The website contains a list of resources, additional stories, and ways to get involved.
  • The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz. The Acumen Fund founder narrates her experiences with developing microfinance initiatives for women in Africa, as well as contributing to development initiatives in India and Pakistan. The book does not exclusively focus on women’s education; rather, it examines the political, economic and historical forces that contribute to poverty and provides background on some potential solutions.
  • From Outrage to Courage: Women Taking Action for Health and Justice, by Anne Firth Murray. This book analyzes the ways in which women have organized worldwide to advocate for equal access to health-care, education, and justice. Like other books on this list, this narrative transports the reader from Indonesia to Kenya to examine how women have harnessed the powers of collective bargaining as a response to the challenges they were facing.
  • Education-Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in Our Schools, by Milton Chen and George Lucas. Unlike the rest of the books on this list, this text focuses on education in the United States and examines approaches to participatory learning, creative thinking, critical analysis and other tools that diversify the way we educate youth. It is a powerful resource not only for educators and parents, but also for young people who seek to nuance and expand the ways in which they learn in the classroom and beyond.

What books would you add to this list? What are your favorite reads on gender-related development or education?

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