I read the book Half the Sky a couple of years ago. Surprisingly, our rural library has the book, although I think I’m the only one who has ever checked it out. It’s written by New York Times op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, a former New York Times journalist. PBS, of Big Bird fame, recently aired a documentary based on the book. The movie and book are powerful, eye opening glimpses of the need and hope for empowerment of girls and women worldwide.
Human trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, lack of access to education and health care, and maternal mortality are moral issues confronting us in the 21st century. Cultural, religious, and societal traditions oppressing women and girls are still prevalent worldwide, including in the United States. However, when women and girls are empowered economically and educationally, women seize the opportunity to change the outcomes for themselves and their families.
My long-suffering husband and I streamed Half the Sky this weekend. My husband is like most people. He’ll watch and then not give it much more thought because “it’s happening in other parts of the world and not here.” However, when he considers his three young granddaughters, he knows that education and opportunities are just as important for them as they are for girls and women everywhere else.
We must guard against becoming complacent, deceiving ourselves into thinking we don’t need to consider these moral imperatives facing women and girls worldwide. Instead of dismissing the issues of sex trafficking, gender-based violence, lack of access to education and health care as developing world problems, we need to examine where those issues are in our own culture … because they are here too. We just have more sophisticated ways of hiding it.