I am back from a summer working in a hot, vermin-infested, impoverished Bangladesh slum. Almost unnecessary was the ground-breaking book I carried with me, “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, both Pulitzer Prize winners. I was seeing their message first hand.
Like the Bangladeshie women who formed a daycare center to ensure safety for children who had been left to wander in the slums while their mothers worked, “Half the Sky” stories celebrate the projects courageous women have created amidst otherwise dire circumstances.
Most importantly, the Kristof/WuDunn book, about the rise of victimized women, has been made into a film that soon airs on PBS to assure a broad and immediate audience. Their book is the result of their investigations into inspiring projects created by resilient women who show perseverance, creativity and hope. It is stories like these that have now been filmed using the charismatic lure of actresses to help influence a paradigm shift in how and where the rest of us can place our collective energy.
Meg Ryan, a CARE ambassador, traveled to Cambodia to tell the transformative story of Somaly Mam, once trafficked and tortured as a sex slave, who now runs a holistic foundation helping girls escape the brothels to gain economic and emotional stability.
While other actresses like America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde travel on-site to tell instances of surprising leadership, the filmmakers do not deviate their focus from the true stars, the women who have risen up to challenge and transform the dehumanizing situation they’ve endured.
Possibly the most important film of the decade, “Half the Sky” comes to PBS in a four-hour two-night premiere on Oct. 1 and 2. It tells real life stories about what is being done and what each person can do to promote gender equality.
Kristof and WuDunn write: “It’s true that there are many injustices in the world, many worthy causes competing for attention and support, and we all have divided allegiances. We focus on this topic because, to us, this kind of oppression feels transcendent – and so does the opportunity. We have seen that outsiders can truly make a significant difference.”
“Half the Sky”
PBS – Oct. 1 & 2
9 to 11 p.m. (8 to 10 p.m. Central)
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