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

On the Road with Community Classroom

November was a busy month for Community Classroom, the ITVS program dedicated to creating educational film resources for use in high schools, colleges, and community settings. We took Community Classroom on the road to three annual educator conferences, including the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and reached thousands of America’s finest educators.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn delivers a keynote address about her book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

At the NCSS conference in Seattle, Sheryl WuDunn, author of the book that inspired the documentary film series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, gave a keynote speech to a crowd of more 700 social studies teachers. WuDunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, spoke of the work she and her husband, Nicholas Kristof (also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), have been engaged in to shed light on the oppression women and girls face worldwide–from Tiananmen Square twenty years ago to the innovative, media savvy Half the Sky Movement of today.

After watching clips from the documentary, the audience had a chance to engage a panel of educators, youth advocates, and teen activists in a discussion about how to teach issues related to gender oppression in their social studies classes. The event came just days after NCSS officially endorsed the curriculum that ITVS’s Community Classroom program created for the documentary. The endorsement is a significant milestone for ITVS, now part of an exclusive group to receive the stamp of approval from America’s largest association devoted solely to social studies education. 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

‘When Mothers Are Saved, Families Are Saved’: Half the Sky Addresses Maternal Mortality

In many developing countries, pregnancy may as well be considered a death sentence. With the premiere of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide just a week away, we felt it was the perfect time to provide a primer of sorts on the various issues highlighted in this special two-night broadcast event. Throughout this next week, Beyond the Box will delve into issues ranging from economic empowerment to intergenerational prostitution, linking many of the problems women face today with the solutions outlined in Half the Sky.

Imagine a world where women are treated as second-class citizens, a world where becoming pregnant is dangerous because women have a 1 in 12 chance of dying from giving birth.

No imagination is required in Somaliland where problems like these are a reality for many women.

Severe bleeding, infections, eclampsia, and obstructed labor are some of the leading causes of maternal deaths in developing countries. All of these symptoms are increasingly likely with women who have received Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Considered a common traditional practice for many cultures in Somaliland (as well as many areas in the western, eastern, and north-easternregions of Africa), FGM is commonly performed on girls before they reach puberty. FGM is also performed on women before marriage or during their first pregnancy.

It is estimated that between 100 million and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGC (Female Genital Circumcision). There are more than 3 million girls at risk of forced FGC each year.

Edna Adan, founder of Edna Adan University Hospital in Somaliland, is a women’s health advocate who is against FGM. Known as the Mother Teresa of Somaliland, Edna is a woman who has experienced FGM firsthand.  As a midwife and nurse, she has witnessed the pain and damaging effects FGM has caused many of her patients. Continue reading

Independent Lens Takes on TCA!

Over the course of the next two weeks, journalists and television critics will be flocking to the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles for the biannual Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour in Los Angeles for a chance to preview upcoming programs from major broadcast and cable networks.

This weekend, PBS is prominently featuring Independent Lens with two panels in support of next season’s programming.

First up is a special presentation of Byron Hurt’s Soul Food Junkies, a documentary that explores the ups and downs of soul food, a quintessential American cuisine.

On Saturday morning, journalists are invited to enjoy a soul food-inspired breakfast before heading over to a panel featuring director Byron Hurt, comedian and key subject of the documentary Dick Gregory, and Independent Lens host Mary-Louise Parker for a lively conversation centered around the film.
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Half the Sky Wins New Fans at PBS Annual Meeting

By Tamara Gould
Vice President, ITVS International

Based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky will premiere as a special presentation on Independent Lens in October 2012. The project is a cornerstone of the Women and Girls Lead campaign and was on display at last week’s PBS Annual Meeting in Denver.

Just back from the PBS annual meeting in Denver and was absolutely thrilled by the response from stations to the upcoming Half the Sky series, which will air on October 1 and 2 as a special presentation of Independent Lens.

This project has been several years in the making, taking up the ambitious work of New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn who wrote Half the Sky to highlight the challenges that women and girls are facing worldwide — issues like trafficking, maternal health, female genital mutilation, and gender based violence.
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Good Vibes Coming Out of the PBS Annual Meeting

By Kathleen Unwin, Current

What a great week in Denver! There was a renewed sense of optimism and purpose among our public television colleagues. Many stations reported good revenue news and the programming looks very promising.

I don’t normally promote programming directly, but I have to say a standout moment for me was watching clips for the upcoming program Half the Sky, the centerpiece of the Women and Girls Lead initiative headed up by ITVS. This is truly a cross-platform media event that will have impact and change lives. It features powerful stories of hope and survival from women around the world. If you are not familiar with the book by from journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, grab it and then tune into your local PBS station October 1st and 2nd.

Some of the courageous women featured in Half the Sky were in attendance, selling their beautiful baskets to help better their lives in Africa. I bought a beautiful necklace and basket to benefit the Umoja Uaso Women’s Group in Kenya, a refuge for victims of domestic abuse. You can learn more about their good work at Umoja Uaso Women’s Fund.

Having the opportunity to attend this conference reminds me of how fortunate we are to be working in public media. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with so many of our readers and advertisers. If I did not get the chance to catch up with you in Denver, I hope that perhaps I will see you in Seattle at the PMDMC!

This article was originally posted on Current.org.

PBS Annual Meeting Features Breakfast Panel on Women and Girls Lead

Women and Girls Lead officially launched at last week’s PBS Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

Watch the below panel discussion on the multi-year public media campaign moderated by Patricia Harrison and featuring: Geena Davis, Paula Kerger, Sheryl WuDunn, and Abigail Disney.

ITVS Announces Funding and Production of Half the Sky for Primetime PBS Broadcast

Based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the series will premiere as a special presentation on Independent Lens in Fall 2012. The project is a cornerstone of the recently announced Women and Girls Lead campaign.


ITVS announced today that it, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has made a significant investment in Half The Sky, a primetime television special and multi-platform project based on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s widely acclaimed book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
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