Empowerment Is Within Reach

If there is ever a time to feel inspired, this week is it. I didn't think that attending the Social Good Summit at the 92nd Street Y could be surpassed. Boy, was I wrong.

This past Thursday night, I was lucky enough to have won two tickets to see a special screening of "Half The Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide", inspired from the same book. Written by columnists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, it documents stories of women and girls from Somaliland, India, Sierra Leone and seven other countries who have been subjected to various forms of oppression. 

In this documentary that will be aired on PBS' Independent Lens, Monday, 10/1 and Tuesday, 10/2, from 9-11pm each night, Kristof interviews a teen overcoming sexual abuse by a religious leader in Sierra Leone, a pregnant woman who had undergone genital mutilation as a child in Somaliland, and a young girl from India whose fate is sealed because of her caste. To make matters worse, these young women never thought that they had a choice because they were brought up in cultures where women had no say or were not validated.

In the case of the young woman from Sierra Leone who was sexually abused, her story was ground-breaking because it was not only her word that captured her abuser, but the belief of her family and Amie Kandeh, Coordinator of Women's Protection and Empowerment, International Rescue Committee that brought her abuser to justice. 

With regard to the young pregnant woman in Somaliland who had undergone genital mutilation as a child, this custom was as normal as giving birth for her as well as for so many other women. While steps are being done to educate women regarding this dangerous custom, so many women still suffer and die from complications stemming from this and pregnancy-related causes. One of the women who has made it her mission to significantly reduce maternal mortality rates in Somalia and Somaliland is Edna Adan, with the help of the first maternal health facility and trained midwives. 

For young Monesha, it is India's unwavering caste system that determines her future. Born of a caste where the women are destined to become prostitutes to make a living, there is no room for growth or a future they can call their own. Monesha's grandmother and mother were both prostitutes, and at the age of 12, her family has decided that it's her obligation to earn a living for her family. With the help of Urmi Basu and her foundation, New Light, she has taken in girls like Monesha to educate them about the risks of sexual exploitation. While Monesha's future is unclear, Urmi doesn't intend to give up fighting to get her back to New Light and away from a life of sexual exploitation.

These unbelievable stories are just a few of what Half The Sky will be presenting on 10/1 and 10/2. The women in this film are to be commended for their courage and their fight to have the future they deserve. Women like Amie Kandeh, Edna Adan and Urmi Basu are guiding lights for all the women who are trying to find their place in their country. As for Nick Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn and Independent Lens, I am so glad that they had the vision to make a film that speaks to everyone's humanity and I can't wait to see the effect their film will have on the rest of the viewing public. As a woman, wife and mother who has never had to fight for her life or her rights as a woman, this film is a wake-up call for me, a reminder that every woman deserves the right to make her own choices for herself and her family. This film is a must-see for everyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of women and children everywhere, That's my take, what's yours?

To read more about this upcoming program, click below:
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky/

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