‘Half the Sky’ Shows Women Overcoming Oppression and Building a Better World

The two part special Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide premiered on PBS earlier this week. America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde join New York Times journalists Nick Kristof to meet some of of the women that are profiled the book of the same name co-authored by his wife Sheryl WuDunn.

A post in the Huffington Post by Dr. Jamela Saleh Alraiby, Deputy Minister of Public Health and Population, Yemen and member of the White Ribbon Alliance Board of Directors, tells of the importance of women and girls. She explains her hopes for ending the suffering of girls in her home country.

Fighting to ban child marriage in Yemen is so difficult as it has religious, cultural and tribal roots, but this challenge gives us more strength to save our girls and to stop the violence they are exposed to, to assure that they have the means and tools to make their own decisions, and to ensure their participation in sustainable development.

Half the Sky: Documentary Focuses on Women Around the World

PBS will premiere the two-part documentary Half the Sky on October 1. The film builds on the bestselling book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn by traveling around the world to share the struggles and challenges faced by women. WuDunn and Executive Producer Mikaela Beardsley take to the USAID Impact blog to discuss the series, the role of USAID and the power of storytelling. Read about the project below and watch the trailer at the top to learn more.

Storytelling is a powerful tool.  It can raise awareness, build compassion, encourage thinking, and motivate action.  That was the vision behind Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity, the book I wrote with my husband, Nicholas Kristof. Our goal was to bring these incredibly personal and powerful stories of women around the world to a mainstream audience.   When Half the Sky was published, Nick and I were floored by the response. The stories resonated with far more people than we imagined.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) knows that powerful narratives can set the stage for positive action.  From the general public to aid experts in the field, the stories and struggles in the developing play a big role in compelling the general public and aid experts to find solutions to global challenges. Telling these stories is not only an expression of our American values but demonstrates how working together to solve these challenges benefits all of us.

And yet telling a powerful story can be challenging.  Different audiences absorb information differently.  Some need an emotional connection, others respond to hard data and statistics so identifying your audience and finding the right platform is critical.  From films, books, and newspapers to exhibits, mobile gaming, and social media, storytellers are venturing into new and exciting platforms, and adapting the material to resonate with diverse audiences.

Melinda Gates On Global Health Spending

Melinda Gates and New York Times journalist Nick Kristof allowed readers to submit questions about international development and global health.   The first part of the conversation was published yesterday; this question and answer caught the eye of us at Healthy Lives:

Question: I attended a talk once with the British economist Benny Dembitzer. He thinks that too much money is spent on the fight against malaria and other diseases, believing that a child may be saved from malaria today but could die from diptheria tomorrow. Instead, he’d rather see that money spend on primary education. As a molecular biologist, I think that the fight against insect transmitted diseases can be won, but I can understand the argument. Do you think that a point might be reached at which we have to say: Enough’s enough. Let’s give everyone bed nets and we can fight malaria through bringing people out of poverty? –ROBERT JONES

MELINDA: I hear that question a lot, and I don’t think it is either or. We have to do both. It is incredibly important not only to invest in health, but also to invest in efforts that stimulate economic growth, expand access to opportunity, and help the poor raise themselves out of poverty. Take agriculture, for example. We invest in agriculture because we believe that if smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women, had access to better information and higher yielding and more resilient crops, they could better feed their families, earn higher incomes, and become self-sufficient.