Documenting women’s oppression globally

Documenting+women%E2%80%99s+oppression+globally

Girl at New Light Crèche in Kolkata, India

“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” is both a book and documentary that follows New York Times journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn through 10 countries alongside actresses America Fererra, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union, Meg Ryan, Olivia Wilde and Diane Lane to depict a heart wrenching unveiling of the oppression of women in the forms of sex-trafficking, forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality.

This documentary was shown in the Stearns Cinema on Thursday Oct. 25 to an audience including students of Ellen Hill and Emily Neilson’s First Year Experience classes, teachers, and members of the Lamoille County community.

The showing was made possible by a partnership between JSC and Vermont Public Television.

This 40-minute long documentary follows women in countries such as Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Somaliland and India who recount their stories.

These include a 14-year-old who was raped by her uncle and pastor, a 13-year-old who had her eye gouged out by a brothel owner, and the death of pregnant women who couldn’t succeed in childbirth due to genital mutilation.

“When women progress, we all progress. Men and women, boys and girls.” says WuDunn. “No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind.”

This documentary is meant to act as a catalyst for change.

Jane Ralph, Executive Director of the Clarina Howard Nichols Center in Morrisville, which offers a variety of services to battered women, opened the room to a discussion.

Hatred, sadness, pity, and gratitude were just a few of the feelings in the room.

“I think taking this film and looking at what is going on even in the United States can help empower women here, and that is a really important first step,” says Colleen Twomey, a JSC alumna who now works with Laraway Youth and Family Services. “We must move women from the victim role to the empowerment role.” Twomey hopes this documentary has inspired students in the same way it has inspired her, to reach out.

“The whole concept of ‘Think Global, Act Local’ personally, is so profound and true.” says Ellen Hill, Director of Experiential Education at JSC. “We are all passionate about issues and that’s how we begin to be catalysts for positive social change and really support our path of active citizenship. It really is looking at large macro issues and applying them here. For me, I watch things like this and I always have to say ‘What’s the call to action?’ I think we need to take the blinders off and see the truth.”

This documentary will be released for purchase to the public Nov. 13, and for more information about this movement go to: www.halftheskymovement.org.