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

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

Celebrate Human Rights Day with Five ITVS Films

By Rebecca Huval

Which holidays are you celebrating this December: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve? Add another to the list because today is Human Rights Day. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UN now honors it annually. This year’s theme is the right to speak up in public life and politics.

Still from The Day My God Died

Celebrate Human Rights Day by catching up on these excellent ITVS-funded documentaries about human rights: 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

Half the Sky: Making a Difference Through Economic Empowerment

When women have equal control over their finances and the financial decision-making on the personal, community, and national levels, everyone benefits. 

Known as the ‘cradle of humanity’, one-fifth of the Kenyan population lives on less than $1.25 a day. A country known for their world-class runners and safari adventures, Kenya is mired in poverty.

Ingrid Munro is the founder of Jamii Bora, a microfinance organization based in Nairobi, Kenya. In a country where 50% of the population lives below the poverty line, microfinance, health insurance, life insurance, and business school seem to be some of the best solutions to the countrywide struggle.

Microfinance is the practice of providing financial services—such as loans, savings, and insurance—to people with limited income and resources, who are typically excluded from the formal banking sector. These services include small loans (sometimes as little as $100) or savings plans to start a business or invest in income-generating projects. Continue reading

Get Involved with Half the Sky

The day has arrived! Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide premieres on Independent Lens this week (October 1&2) on PBS. This special two-night event has a myriad of ways you can be a part of the stories you’ll see, from a social TV application to a mosaic of Half the Sky fans.

With a range of social media activities in place, everyone is invited to be part of the Half the Sky movement. Here’s how you can join us:

  • Find us on yap.TV. Want a more social experience during the broadcast of Half the Sky? Eager to find exclusive behind the scenes content with the celebrity activists and change agents? yap.TV is a social TV program guide where you can chat with fans online while watching programs. Half the Sky will provide exclusive content for their yap.TV audience. To sign up today, download the yap.TV app, add Half the Sky to your favorites, and watch America Ferrera interview Urmi Basu in a short film about the caste system. Tune in with yap.TV for more conversations and exclusives during the broadcast on October 1st and 2nd.

Women and Girls Lead Goes to Washington!

The countdown to the national broadcast of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is well underway!

The National Press Club, September 11, 2012 (photo credit: Joyce Boghosian)

“Half the Sky amplifies voices and powerful stories from the global movement for gender equity,” said Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS president and CEO. “We’re thrilled to join CPB and Show of Force in co-presenting, along with other partners, events that will bring together the people who can truly help change lives in the U.S. and abroad.”

What a week it has been for ITVS and Women and Girls Lead in Washington DC! Last week, ITVS hosted a series of high-profile events, in partnership with CPB, to celebrate the launch of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, airing October 1 and 2 on Independent Lens.

The first event took place at The National Press Club on September 11th, followed by an evening reception hosted by the Meridian International Center on September 12th. The third event was a special screening in the Russell Senate Building on September 13th, marking our second Capitol Hill screening this year! Continue reading

Announcing the Seventh Season of Community Cinema

Drum roll, please…. ITVS is excited to announce the seventh season of Community Cinema, which offers free screenings for communities nationwide!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide kick starts the seventh season of Community Cinema

Join Community Cinema this season as they kick-off the screening series with Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Maro Chermayeff. This landmark documentary miniseries (based on the bestselling book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn) follows six actress-advocates — America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde — as they travel to Africa and Asia and meet inspiring, courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions.

Community Cinema takes on diverse issues from current news headlines, such as As Goes Janesville, Brad Lichtenstein’s three-year chronicle about the debate over the future of America’s middle class, a debate that has become a pitched battle over unions in the normally tranquil state of Wisconsin; Macky Alston’s Love Free or Die, a portrait of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay elected bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom, whose 2003 elevation in the New Hampshire diocese ignited a worldwide firestorm in the Anglican Communion; and Soul Food Junkies, Byron Hurt’s personal look at the black community’s love affair with soul food, its significance, and its health consequences. Continue reading

Independent Lens Announces Fall 2012 Season

The Independent Lens fall lineup includes a special presentation of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Love Free or DieAs Goes Janesville, and Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream.

The 11th season of Independent Lens kicks off with Macky Alston’s documentary Love Free or Die.

With a new home on Monday nights, Independent Lens is ready to kick off its 11th season with a slate of award-winning documentaries that focus on various issues in America. Independent Lens senior series producer Lois Vossen told Real Screen: “All of the films are meant to really be conversations where people talk about the big issues: the war on drugs, rape in the U.S. military, the U.S. economy, the demise of the middle class, gay marriage. All topics that have people sort of polarized – and our goal is to try and bridge that divide… More than anything I would say that’s what ties this to an election year – this idea of what’s happening in contemporary America.”

Before the fall season officially launches, Independent Lens will present the primetime special Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. Continue reading