Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide": an invitation to discuss this film

Amie Kandeh speaks to girls in Freetown about staying focused on their studies.
Photo: Melissa Winkler/IRC
If you haven't as yet, I encourage you to watch the documentary, Half The Sky, based on a book by two New York Times journalists, Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. It is filled with stories of pain and empowerment. (For any survivors of rape, trafficking, prostitution, female genital cutting, battery, and other forms of misogynistic abuse, please be warned: this film deals with each of these atrocities.)

Let's discuss the strengths and the problems with the film. What follows is from one of the websites for the film *here*:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into
Opportunity for Women Worldwide

A special presentation of Independent Lens.

Watch part one online through October 8 and part two through October 9.

A landmark transmedia project featuring a four-hour PBS primetime national and international broadcast event (check local listings), a Facebook-hosted social action game, mobile games, two websites, educational video modules with companion text, a social media campaign supporting over 30 partner NGOs, and an impact assessment plan all inspired by Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the widely acclaimed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide was filmed in 10 countries and follows Kristof, WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds — present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the opportunity to make a change. All over the world women are seizing this opportunity.
I'll add to this post soon, especially if there are no comments. But I'd like this to be a conversation about the film and the politics of it, as well as the activists featured in the film and the male supremacist atrocities against girls and women they are combating. The activists are:

Edna Adan

Edna Adan was raised in Somaliland in an educated and wealthy family, and went on to a distinguished international career with the World Health Organization. But after retiring, Adan returned to her roots and opened Somaliland’s first maternal health facility.

Urmi Basu

Urmi Basu is the founder of New Light, a secular nonprofit charitable trust that has set up a shelter to protect and educate young girls, children and women at high risk of commercial sexual exploitation.

Amie Kandeh

Amie Kandeh is the Women's Protection and Empowerment Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee in Sierra Leone. After fleeing Sierra Leone with her family during the country’s civil war, Kandeh returned in 2002 to put her skills as an educator and counselor to use in rebuilding the country.

Rebecca Lolosoli

Rebecca Lolosoli is the matriarch of the Umoja Women's Village and an advocate for women's rights. Growing up as a member of the Samburu tribe, Lolosoli attended primary school and then nursing school but dropped out early on due to lack of money to pay the fees.

Somaly Mam

Somaly Mam was born in an ethnic minority community in Cambodia's Mondulkiri province, and grew up as an orphan living in extreme poverty. A man posing as her grandfather sold Somaly as a young girl into sexual slavery.

Ingrid Munro

Ingrid Munro is a Swedish national who worked for eight years for the Swedish government in the Bureau of Housing Research. Following this, she began her career as an advocate for the poor in Kenya, pressing for their right to housing as a staff member of Habitat and the head of African Housing Fund, an advocacy group for the homeless.

Jane Ngoiri

Jane Ngoiri grew up in the slums of Nairobi and dropped out of school after the eighth grade. She married at age 18, but when she was pregnant with her second child, her husband took a second wife and she soon found herself with three younger children, pushed out of her home and with no money.

John Wood

John Wood is the founder and board chair of Room to Read. He started Room to Read after a career with Microsoft from 1991 to 1999, where he was in charge of marketing and business development teams throughout Asia, including serving as director of business development for the Greater China region and as director of marketing for the Asia-Pacific region.

So let's talk about this film and the activism.