A Reading List on Women in Crisis

A Reading List on Women in Crisis

in Afghanistan, Somalia, and South Sudan/Darfur

AAUW Columbia Branch Raising Our Half the Sky Project


The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe

By  Lemmon, Gayle

Harper, 2011               958.1 LEM*

The book gives the incredible true account of Kamila Sidiqi who, when her father and brother were forced to flee Kabul, became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Determined to hold her family together, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own.

The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future

Koofi, Fawzia

2012                           328.581 KOO*

The nineteenth daughter of a local village leader, the author survived being left outside to die as an infant, family abuse, the exploitative Russian and Taliban regimes, and numerous attempts on her life. She became the first Afghani woman Parliament speaker and one of the most outspoken critics of human rights violations against Afghani women and children.

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman Who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistan

By Sadeed, Suraya

VoiceHyperion, 2011                      958.1047 SAD*

Born to privilege, Suraya Sadeed fled to the United States with her husband and daughter after the 1979 Soviet invasion. She became a prosperous workaholic. Since 1994 she has been personally delivering relief and hope to Afghan women and girls in situations deemed too dangerous for other aid workers and for journalists. She founded Help the Afghan Children.

However Tall the Mountain: A Dream, Eight Girls, and A Journey Home

Ayub, Awista

Hyperion, 2009         305.4095 AYU*

By bringing soccer to young Afghan women, Ayub reintroduced the very traits decades of war in Afghanistan had cruelly stripped away from them–confidence and self-worth.

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

By Rodriguez, Deborah with Kristin Ohlson

Random House, 2007          305.4869 ROD*

eBook, 2007

In 2001, Deborah Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother from Michigan, went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian aid group. She was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. She began the Kabul Beauty School, a place where women learned skills and shared their stories.

Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan

Nawa, Fariba

Harper Perennial, 2011               958.1047 NAW*

A journalist who escaped the Soviet occupation when she was nine returned to interview Afghans involved in the opium trade and to strengthen her Afghan identity.

The Storyteller’s Daughter

Shah, Saira

Alfred A. Knopf, 2003                    958.1046 SHA*

Raised on her father’s fantastic stories of an Afghanistan she had never known, a journalist and documentary filmmaker searches for a mythic place of beauty and finds a place ravaged by decades of war, poverty, and religious puritanism. She weaves legends and traditional sayings into her text.

Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future

Edited by Sunita Mehta, with assistance from Esther Hyneman, Batya Swift Yasgur, and Andrea Labis

Palgrave Macmillan, 2002             305.4209 WOM*


Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival

Korn, Fadumo

Feminist Press, 2006                      392.1096 KOR*

The author traces her steps from her childhood in a nomadic tribe in Somalia to her immigration to Germany for medical care necessitated by female genital mutilation at age seven and then to her role as a spokesperson against FGM.

Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad

Dirie, Waris and Cathleen Miller

PerennialHarperCollins, 2001      B DIR*

Waris Dirie ran away from her oppressive life in a nomadic family in her early teens. Illiterate and owning nothing but a tattered shawl. she traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert and eventually to London. She worked as a house servant before becoming an internationally known fashion model and then a U.N. human rights ambassador. She continues her story in Desert Dawn

(Virago, 2008, B DIR), where she recounts her return to her homeland and family and her work as an ambassador opposing female genital mutilation.

The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir

Miré, Soraya

Lawrence Hill Books, 2011            392.14 MIR*

Miré reveals what it means to grow up in a traditional Somali family, where girls’ and women’s basic human rights are violated on a daily basis. A victim of female genital mutilation and an arranged marriage to an abusive cousin, she gives a dramatic account of her personal recovery and a view of Somalia’s political instability from the elite’s inner circles.

South Sudan/Darfur

The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur

By Steidle, Brian

Public Affairs, 2007             962.4043 STE*

Downloadable Audiobook, 2007

DVD, 2007                  DVD 962.704 DEV*

Each version leads you through the tragic impact of an Arab government bent on destroying its black African citizens, the frustrating complexity of international inaction in response to blatant genocide, and the awkward yet heroic transformation of a former Marine turned humanitarian.

 Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide

Hamilton, Rebecca

Palgrave MacMillan, 2011              962.4043 HAM*

Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

Smith, Kimberly L.

David C. Cook, 2011                      306.362 SMI*

An average American churchgoer, wife, and mother traveled to the deserts of Africa and discovered the atrocities of human trafficking. She transformed a self-centered life into an international effort to save thousands from modern-day slavery, persecution, disease, and genocide.

Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know

Natsios, Andrew S.

Oxford University Press, 2012       962.404 NAT*

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

By Bashir, Halima

Ballantine Books, 2008                  962.4043 BAS*

Downloadable Audiobook, 2008

Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima received a good education, thanks to her politically astute father, a cattle herder. She became her village’s first doctor before being swept up in the conflict in Darfur.

 *Columbia Public Library