Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Sheryl WuDunn, business executive, human rights activist and Pulitzer prize-winning author speak at the University of Rhode Island. The focus was her best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and how her and her husband, co-author of the book and renowned journalist Nicholas Kristof, inspired a movement.
The Half the Sky Movement, which took off in 2009, focuses on exposing and confronting issues such as sex trafficking, forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality. From Somaliland to Cambodia to Afghanistan, the duo partnered with on the ground NGO's and worked to create real, meaningful solutions to end gender discrimination and modern day slavery.
Today, the movement has 32 partners, one of which is the New Light Foundation, an NGO based in Kolkata, India, that has been providing safe shelter, education, and recreational facilities for the children of local sex workers since 2000. The Half the Sky movement partnered with New Light based on the belief that "the best way to fight poverty is to educate girls and involve women in the workforce." Later, the Anchal Project partnered with the New Light Foundation based on that very idea, but focused instead on providing alternative careers for women already trapped in the cycle of sexual slavery and providing scholarships for their children.
In relation to India specifically, WuDunn asked the audience ,"How can we further develop a nation when half of the talent isn't utilized?" The answer is that we can't. Educating girls and employing women is absolutely crucial to the success of a nation. WuDunn added, "Women and girls are not the problem, they are the solution", and the Anchal family couldn't agree more. Women need to unite and demand gender equality for our sisters around the world. Click here to see who else has partnered with Half The Sky and made women's rights a priority.
She closed with a thought provoking fact proven in recent studies: "There are few things that can elevate our level of happiness once we have all of our material things. One of those things is contributing to a cause larger than ourselves." See how Anchal is contributing to the movement and be part of it today. Change is happening, and it continues with you.
Images provided by Harvard China Club