Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Student Review by Tiara Milner

The documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (DVD), is based on a best-selling book by journalist couple Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The documentary features six famous American women: America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde on their journeys through some of the worst conditions for women in the world. They visited Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Vietnam, Somaliland, India and Kenya. The storytelling was compelling and directed in Sierra Leone, the focus was on Gender Based Violence. In this case, Filamatu is raped by her uncle, a pastor, and because she is has been tainted, her father insists that she leaves the house. She has done nothing wrong, but, like in many developing countries, a woman’s chastity is of utmost importance to her chance at marrying and starting a family. Next they visit Cambodia and tackle the issue of Sex Trafficking. There, a rehabilitation center for former child slaves has been built. Cambodian sex trafficking is a huge problem because it also tends to take small children, mostly girls, as its victims. In Vietnam, it’s very difficult for a woman to receive an education because they are normally looking after the home at a very young age. In Somaliland, there is a high maternal mortality rate because of the lack of midwives to assist in the deliveries. Another issue is that the culture in Somaliland is one that almost demands the circumcision of women. This practice makes childbirth difficult and also causes many unnecessary deaths. In India, there is an epidemic of intergenerational prostitution. Women are forced into prostitution and know nothing else, so when they become mothers they place their daughters into the vicious cycle. In Kenya, there is a large portion of the population living on less than $1.25 per day. The key is economic empowerment for women because it has been proven that when a woman succeeds, you see her growth and prosperity put into the children. There has been a large push for the empowerment of women because they seek to grow the family and encourage education for those who would not have otherwise received any. . I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the injustices against women and the people that are actively working against these injustices.