Monday, August 27, 2012

Half the Sky Documentary - Get Involved!

If you're a regular around here, you've heard me talk about the book, Half the Sky.  Nicholas Kristof is a journalist for the New York Times.  His columns offer a persistent voice of advocacy for the poor and poverty-related issues around the world.

About Half the Sky

"From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.

Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty. "

I've read Half the Sky twice and the stories and ideas it contains will forever be a part of my story.  This book has shaped the way I think.  I'm excited that a documentary, based on the book, will be available October 1 and 2 at 9pm/8pm CT on PBS.

If you're thinking, "I really wish I knew more about these issues, but diving into this arena feels overwhelming - I never know where to start," then I highly recommend watching this documentary.  I'm expecting this film to be a lot like the book - eye opening, troubling, honest, but ultimately full of hope. I'm eager to see how this documentary will move and inspire people to action on behalf of women and young girls around the world.  

"God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, 
but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation.

-- Tim Keller in Generous Justice  

How to Get Involved

Mark your calendar for October 1 or 2 to watch the documentary on PBS.

Organize a screening in your town, with your friends, or through your church.  If you sign up to host a screening, Half the Sky will send you discussion questions to use for your event.  With the help of some friends, I'm working to figure out how the women in my life can sit together for the evening, watch the film, discuss, and encourage one another to dream heaven-inspired dreams for this world.  You can host a large event or something small and intimate.  All the information you'll need to host a screening can be found HERE.

Are you a college student who is passionate about these issues?  Half the Sky is looking for Campus Ambassadors.  You could join a select group of students working towards a freer and fairer world for women (while working alongside Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn).

Follow along with Half the Sky on Facebook and/or Twitter.  If you want to stay informed about issues facing women globally, connect with Half the Sky.

Read Half the Sky.  It's informative and offers examples of regular people who get involved and bring about change in this world.

Kristof recently visited Willow Creek Church.  Willow Creek is long-known for their passion for social justice, loving their community in tangible ways, and offering hope to people living in poverty in their own home town and around the world.  If you want to be inspired and feel hopeful that maybe one day the Church and "secular" non-profit groups can focus on the areas we agree upon and work together instead of harping on small areas of disagreement, watch the video from Willow Creek.  Ultimately this polarization between two groups who have many of the same passions is hurting the poor and specifically women and children around the world.  When we operate out of fear and distrust the result is rarely (if ever) helpful. Watching Hybels and Kristof dialogue about injustice to women, seeing them treat each other with respect, and realizing the common ground we share is a beautiful moment for everyone laboring and advocating in these arenas.

On Wednesday, October 3 how about we meet back here and talk about the themes and ideas that stuck out to us most during the documentary?  I'll share the parts that spoke to me, and I hope you'll do the same!  Who's going to watch?


Emily Minich said...

I have a question, Heather. I completely understand and support helping women to rise out of poverty and oppression, but does this ministry also hold to the belief that women who stay at home and take care of their kids are oppressed? The women from Zimbabwe who had five kids who got her doctorate, did she need to work to support her family, or did they think she was oppressed because she had five kids and worked at home? Who took care of her kids after she became unoppressed?

Hendrick Family said...


Like I said - I've read the book twice and read most of Kristof's articles. I've never heard him mention what you're talking about. The definition of oppression is closely linked to lack of freedom and opportunity - to being enslaved in a situation that is unhealthy, and not having options for escaping this sort of situation.

I'm thankful for how many women have the freedom and choice in our country to stay at home with their kids, but women in developing worlds often do not have the same privilege.

I'm guessing YES - the woman in Zimbabwe most likely is not your typical, American, stay at home model with a faithful, hard-working husband out providing for her. It's most likely she has no husband who cares for her or her children and didn't have the access to education she needed to ensure her children eat every day, get an education, and are protected from injustices like child trafficking.

I understand your question and like I said - I've never heard Kristof ever say that women who are able to stay home with their kids are oppressed. Instead, they are exercising freedoms and empowerment that most women around the world do not enjoy.

But, I hope your'e not suggesting that this woman from Zimbabwe is not loving and caring for her children simply because she pursued an education. This is why poverty is terrible - it offers people living in it very few options. Instead of being able to choose what she felt was absolutely best for her children this woman in Zimbabwe most likely had to choose between the lesser of two evils at times just to make ends meet and ensure survival for her kids.

Poverty steals options from women and their children. That's why I'm thankful for the advocacy Half the Sky is doing on behalf of women around the world.


Emily Minich said...

No, I'm not suggesting she didn't love or take care of her kids because she pursued college. It just seems like the typical viewpoint these days is that women who are at home are the enslaved ones. Obviously if I were to host a screening, I wouldn't want to if the goal were to belittle women who chose to stay home and take care of their kids. I absolutely love the ministries in Haiti, like the Apparent Project, that help women be able to care for their children. I have been collecting cereal boxes for a long time to send, but still don't have enough.

Hendrick Family said...

Emily -

I think it would be great if you host a screening, and I don't think you have anything to worry about when it comes to the documentary suggesting that those of us who stay at home full-time or work from home are oppressed.

I do think the film will be honest about the need for women in developing worlds to be given access to education and skills they need to provide for themselves and their children. This will look differently than it does in the US much of the time and the urgency is more life/death. Here we have plenty of safeguards as women - and also a lot of choices and freedoms as we choose whether or not to work outside the home. Those choices and freedoms are simply non-existent for most women in the developing world.

Marla Taviano said...

I'm in!! Gonna re-read the book in the meantime.

Rachel said...

I re-read the book recently, and I was wondering if you know of anyone hosting a screening here (or if I could sit in with yours?) I can always watch it at home or online, but I would love to get to talk ideas with other people.