Half the Sky – Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide

Attended a pretty great event last night at Ford Foundation supporting the upcoming release of Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn sponsored by Women and Girls Lead.

I’ve traveled A LOT and seen so much of what is shown in the film/tv show/talked about in the book. I’ve noticed that it is RARE that someone comes back from those experiences and instead of lying around shattered and depressed, is truly motivated to address the ROOT CAUSES of the major social ills of the world. One of the moments that inspired me was when Nick said the success of the film/series will not be measured by the # of VIEWERS, but by the # of people who get up and DO SOMETHING. He described some of the ‘world ills’ such as poverty, social conflict, environmental stress and he said that there are no silver bullets, but the best leverage is to invest in women and girls. President of the Ford Foundation, Luis Ubiñas,  encapsulated the essential question of how to affect real change – “We’ve spent nearly a trillion dollars on symptoms, no one has stepped back and said what’s the root cause..?” He, like many others have realized the power, both social and economic of investing in women and girls.

Some of the other awesome comments from last night:

  • Gabrielle Union shared her own personal and powerful story and showed how she uses her societal status to be a voice for women and girls – she also noted that, “Sometimes you have to reach the bottom in order to want to pull anyone else up to the top.”
  • “It starts by giving a DAMN about PEOPLE!” ~ Gabrielle Union
  • Edna Adan inspired me with the clarity of her vision of the legacy that she wants to leave on this planet, “The biggest contribution is not the bricks and mortar… What I would like to leave behind are the women/midwives that I have trained.”
  • Games For Change is one of many awesome platforms #halfthesky is using to spread this movement (notice I didn’t say spread the word) – Games for Change is helping people move from being a passive viewer to giving them an opportunity to take action. Turning game play into opportunities to learn about what it takes to have a healthy pregnancy (addressing maternal mortality)! Not only are these games happening on mobile phones in country, they have also developed a facebook game – I’m interested to see what happens when it launches in early November (apparently there are opportunities to actually donate live goats alongside the purchase of the digital ones…).

All in all it was an engaging evening filled with a buzz that this year’s energy has been building. This past weekend has seen the Social Good Summit (which was trending pretty heavily on twitter over the weekend!) OMEGA‘s Women and Power conference where they kicked off the Women’s Leadership Center and  this week the Clinton Global Initiative (still happening now – I’ve been watching as much as possible on livestream and the videos are online) happening alongside the United Nations General Assembly (and other events, I’m sure)!

Nicholas Kristoff at Ford Foundation premier of Half the Sky

Nick said last night, “Change can happen remarkably quickly when we reach a tipping point. And we’re getting to that point.” Let’s continue to harness that energy and answer the call to turn oppression INTO opportunity for women and girls worldwide.

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