Half the Sky: Not just a book and a documentary, but a movement

Have you ever read a book that changed your life? Although this is a bold statement to be made, I can truthfully say that I have. “Half the Sky” is a book that changed my purpose in life forever. It is the book that motivated me to transform from a modern stay-at-home mom to a life as an advocate, activist and a voice for social good and giving back. A path that started three years ago, and has evolved into unimaginable ways. A road I’m utterly excited to be following; a dream I’ve had for years. It is time to give back and there is no time more important than now.

 

So why did Half the Sky have such a powerful impact me? What is the book about?

The book is about women and girls and the extraordinary things they are doing around the globe to bring about change in the face of severe gender oppression and inequality. The book is not a light read. It is destined to leave anyone with a heart in tears. It is a tragic look into the hidden atrocities that are happening every minute to women and girls around the world. Modern day slavery, sex trafficking, genital mutilation, rape, honor killing, lack of education, maternal mortality, and the impact of fistula (a devastating treatable condition that occurs after childbirth and leaves a woman with incontinence, ridicule and isolation).

Yet despite all the devastation and oppression discussed in each page of this book, there is is hope. For the book is rightly named “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”. Amazing things are happening right now in regards to women’s and girl’s rights. At the Social Good Summit and Clinton Global Initiative 2012 Annual meetings in New York City just this past week, women and girl’s rights were at the forefront of the conversation.

Per Sheryl WuDunn, “In the same way that slavery was a moral challenge for the 19th century and totalitarianism was a challenge for the 20th century, the challenge that women and girls face around the world is the moral challenge of our time”.

This message was reiterated over and over again by several high-level officials this past week in New York City. A message that sparked a global movement to address what WuDunn and Kristof dubbed “the central moral challenge of our time” – ending the oppression of women and girls world-wide.

Although women and girls around the globe face threats every day of their lives, hope and optimism remain that these courageous women are working to turn things around. Non-governmental organizations and powerful individuals are finding ways to increase awareness and provide ways for women and girls to escape the vicious cycle of poverty and abuse they face through initiatives to increase education, reproductive and maternal health care, and economic empowerment.

“In Cambodia, where 30 percent of prostitutes are children, Half the Sky examines the issue of sex trafficking. Meg Ryan and Nickolas Kristof meet Somaly Mam, herself sold into slavery as a young girl, but who is now a world-renowned leader in the anti-trafficking struggle”.

Besides the documentary, Kristof and WuDunn are taking the book one step further into perhaps unprecedented territory. They have partnered with leading NGO, Games for Change, to use technology as never before. Together they are creating games that change Half the Sky from simply a book to a movement focusing on ways to promote change. Change in attitude and beliefs that will help empower women and drive them out of poverty.

It is an ambitious program like never seen before. Kristof and WuDunn believe that with such a high percentage of the population having access to mobile phones, that now is the time to reach out to a new audience and impact change from the ground up. For example, in one Kenyan slum they visited, 75% of the one million people had cell phones but most did not have a TV. Half the Sky launched a mobile app for youth to learn about critical issues impacting their community such as teenage pregnancy, intestinal worms and female discrimination. Half the Sky is hoping that gaming will act as a catalyst to impact behavioral changes and empower youth to make change.

To read more about Half the Sky’s upcoming games, click here. It is truly impressive!

To learn more, please visit Half the Sky Movement and see how you can help.

This blog post by ONE Moms Community Partner Nicole Melancon was originally published on Third Eye Mom.

“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” is a highly aclaimed book written by Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. A compelling four-hour documentary on the book is being shown for the first time on PBS on Monday, October 1 and Tuesday, October 2nd. See below for details.