Half the Sky Earns TV Academy Honors

The Independent Lens special presentation Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide will be among seven other programs to receive Television Academy Honors at the May 9th ceremony in Los Angeles.


Recognized for personifying “Television with a Conscience,” the landmark PBS program is based on the book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The four-part series follows six actress-advocates as they travel to six countries and meet inspiring, courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.

The film premiered last October as part of public media’s Women and Girls Lead initiative. Watch the trailer for the doc after the jump. Continue reading

Happy International Women’s Day from Women and Girls Lead

Today is International Women’s Day! How do you plan to honor the more than 3 billion women and girls in the world in the next 24 hours? We like to celebrate with film, of course. No other medium can amplify women’s voices and capture their experiences quite like documentary film. Join us today at 11am PT / 2pm ET for a special International Women’s Day online screening of clips from Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.


Fans of the Half the Sky Movement will gather online today to talk about the ways that they are making a difference in the lives of women and girls everywhere. We’ll also share lots of new opportunities to get involved, such as a new Facebook game! Half the Sky Movement: The Game is a Facebook adventure that raises awareness and funds to empower women and girls across the globe. Inspired by the worldwide movement, the game was created by Pulitzer-Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and the PBS documentary film series. Players can embark on a journey to complete quests and unlock real-life donations from sponsors that reflect many important issues.

We’ll also talk more about the inspiring young female changemakers currently being considered for the Students Rebuild Award. The award, sponsored by the Besos Family Foundation, will give five $10,000 prizes to young women working for change in Half the Sky featured countries. Through the end of the day, anyone can view and vote for these remarkable award finalists, who hail from Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Somaliland, India, and Kenya. Award winners will be announced online during the week of March 18th.

Be sure to continue the celebration all month long by watching the ten powerful documentaries included in the #SheDocs Online Film Festival. Happy International Women’s Day from Women and Girls Lead!

Up Next From the Half the Sky Movement

On March 4th, the Half the Sky Movement releases a wide-reaching Facebook game designed to inspire many.

The Half the Sky Movement is cutting across platforms to ignite the change needed to put an end to the oppression of women and girls worldwide, the defining issue of our time. Inspired by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book of the same name, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide brings together video, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools to not only raise awareness of women’s issues, but to also provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women. Change is possible, and you can be part of the solution.

Last year, the movement released the documentary series as a special presentation of Independent Lens on PBS, making decisions along the way that would help the series reach a wider audience and bring awareness to the work of the nonprofits on the ground in 10 countries. This proved successful when the October broadcast garnered one billion mentions on social media – a true feat for a 4-hour long documentary on these sensitive issues. Continue reading

Using Social Media to Inspire Peaceful and Positive Change

media_millions_finalThe United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and ITVS have partnered up to present Media that Moves Millions summit on February 28, 2013 in Washington D.C. The event marks the fourth installment of the Media as Global Diplomat leadership series, aimed at leveraging global media to highlight innovative models for international conflict prevention.

Media that Moves Millions looks beyond the headlines to understand the role of social media in mass movements for peaceful social change. A gathering of tech savvy peacebuilders and change agents, the day long summit will feature many of those people and organizations at the forefront of innovation, including: Nicholas Kristof, journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes; Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children; Frank Sesno, award-winning American journalist; Matthew Perault, manager for privacy and global policy at Facebook; and Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation to the Secretary of State. Other notable speakers include president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, Kathy Calvin, CPB president and CEO Patricia Harrison, and Sally Jo Fifer, President & CEO of ITVS.

The first part of the Media that Moves Millions summit will explore campaigns that have captured the world’s attention by successfully using participatory media for social change, including the We Are All Khaled Said, Half the Sky, and Kony 2012 campaigns. Continue reading

One Educator’s Take on Teaching Gender Oppression

ITVS Community Classroom and the film Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide made a big splash at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in Seattle in November. This is the largest national gathering of social studies educators, drawing more than 3,500 people. ITVS hosted a screening of excerpts from the film to a crowd of more than 700 and Sheryl WuDunn gave a keynote address before the screening. NCSS awarded the honor of their national endorsement for the curriculum Community Classroom developed around the film. U.S. Department of Education Ambassador fellow Lisa Clarke moderated a panel discussion with representatives from local and national NGOs, and writes here about the importance of bringing this content into social studies curriculum nationwide.

The Half the Sky panel at the National Council for the Social Studies in Seattle, WA.

How many of you were born from mothers? This question, asked by Heidi Breeze from One by One at the 2012 NCSS Conference in Seattle, pointed to a paradox; if we all have a biological mother, then why is it so difficult to discuss maternal health issues in our classes? As a teacher, I’ve had conversations with my colleagues about if and how to discuss issues affecting women and girls in my contemporary world issues class. Our concerns included whether it is cognitively and developmentally appropriate to raise these issues – involving human sexuality, pervasive violence, and unsettling images – in our high school classrooms. Could we do so without portraying women as passive victims? Continue reading

Call for Nominations! Students Rebuild Award Features Half the Sky Movement

Around the world, many young women go unrecognized, fighting bravely to improve the living conditions of her peers and fighting to end the oppression of women and girls in her community. This is your chance to see her efforts recognized, celebrated and amplified by nominating a young woman for the Students Rebuild Award, which includes a $10,000 prize.

Women and Girls Lead campaign partner Half the Sky Movement is partnering with Students Rebuild, a collaborative initiative created by the Bezos Family Foundation. Students Rebuild mobilizes young people worldwide to connect, learn, and take action on critical global issues. The Students Rebuild Awards, featuring the Half the Sky Movement in its inaugural year, will help fuel global awareness and anti-oppression efforts by elevating game changers who are working to improve the lives of young people in their communities.

This year, SRA is looking for NGOs to nominate outstanding young women between the ages of 18 to 28 years old, who are citizens of one of the six following countries featured in the PBS series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Continue reading

Special Screening of Half the Sky with a Keynote Address by Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky is coming to Seattle, Saturday Nov 17! Join us for a special screening of the new PBS documentary based on the book by her and Nicholas Kristof. 

Inspired by the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide addresses one of the central moral challenges of our time: the oppression of women and girls worldwide. Shot in six different countries, the series follows Kristof and a group of American actresses to some of the places in the world where gender inequality is most extreme, and introduces audiences to the indomitable individuals who are fighting to make a difference. This special screening will feature 45 minutes worth of clips focusing on access to education in Vietnam and human trafficking in Cambodia. View the trailer for the film series.

Following the screening will be a panel discussion featuring WuDunn and representatives from youth serving organizations including The Girl Scouts of Western Washington, International Rescue Committee, One by One, and Room to Read. The panel will be moderated by Lisa Clarke, a Washington Teacher Ambassador Fellow with the Department of Education. Continue reading

Women and Girls Lead Takes on Violence in 16 Days

From November 25 to December 10, Women and Girls Lead joins its partners in 16 Days of Action to eliminate gender-based violence. The 2012 global campaign focuses on the effects of militarism on women and girls.

Violence against women and girls is a global crisis that cuts across all countries, classes and cultures, touching the lives of women and girls in every community. According to the United Nations, approximately one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Violence prevention is a central issue in the Women and Girls Lead campaign and many of our partners. Each year, we join efforts in a 16-day, all-out activism blitz to put gender-based violence into the public spotlight.

The 16 Days of Action to eliminate violence against women kicks off on November 25th, International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence, and ends on December 10th, Human Rights Day. More than four thousand organizations from 172 countries have participated in the campaign since it launched at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers in 1991. Women and Girls Lead is one of them, offering films that amplify the stories of survivors and educate the public about the factors that contribute to violence. Continue reading

ITVS Receives 2012 Honoree Award from Women’s World Banking

Women and Girls Lead NGO partner, Women’s World Banking, hosted their annual Global Dinner on October 10, celebrating 30 Years of Inclusion, Innovation, and Investment.

This year, Women’s World Banking strengthened its commitment to improve the lives of low-income women by creating sustainable financial services specific to their unique needs. As an NGO partner for the Women and Girls Lead campaign, Women’s World Banking and ITVS share a passion for increasing awareness and women’s access to both financial and health services, education, and a life free from violence.

ITVS president and CEO Sally Jo Fifer was presented a special honor for outstanding achievement in bringing women and girl’s issues to light through the Women and Girls Lead initiative and its pillar program Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for women Worldwide. Half the Sky director, Maro Chermayeff, and the producer team including: Jeff Dupree, Jaime Gordon, Mikaela Beardsley, and Joshua Bennett also received honors for their extraordinary work on the landmark PBS mini-series. Continue reading

Women Are Not the Problem, They Are the Solution

The issues women and girls face stretch far and wide across the globe, and progress can often feel slow when the numbers of oppressed women are so high. But if there is one thing to take away from the Half the Sky Movement, it is this: There are solutions.

Sex trafficking. Gender-based violence. Maternal mortality. Forced prostitution. How do we combat these issues?

Paired with education, economic empowerment is the most powerful tool used to battle many of the issues that plague women in developing countries. Through microfinance loans, livestock gifts, and proper vocational training, women can begin to take charge of their lives and the family income. Studies suggest that women are more responsible with their income than men – they invest approximately 80 cents of every dollar earned back into their family.

As the only microfinance network catering solely to women, Women’s World Banking is actively working to give women the chance to transition from oppression to opportunity through economic empowerment. Access to the means of production, such as loans for small businesses or the ability to save for building a business, will open the door for women to the formal economy, a door that has been sealed. Continue reading