Last year, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, published their book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
The book shows how most societies suppress women through terrible — and culturally accepted — measures, such as stoning, genital mutilation, sex slavery, maternal morbidity, forced marriage, honour killings and other atrocities.
But the book also focuses on the small, empowering steps these oppressed women are doing to change the status quo.
This Thursday, in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, movie theaters across North America will broadcast Half the Sky LIVE; a combination of documentary and celebrity discussion panel, based on Kristof and WuDunn’s work.
Filmed on a snowy February day at New York University and presented by the poverty-fighting organization CARE, Half the Sky LIVE features a celebrity panel discussion about the plight of women, readings by celebrities such as Maria Bello and Marisa Tomei, musical performances by India.Arie and Diane Birch, as well as the world premiere of Woineshet.
It is a short film made by Tomei that is based on a poor Ethiopian woman featured in Half the Sky who triumphs over discrimination, rape, and forced marriage.
“We hoped (the book) would reach a lot of people,” said the Pulizer-prize winning Kristoff in an impromptu interview after the filming. “But this has been a very pleasant surprise.”
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who participated in the panel discussion and read the story of Prudence, a woman in Cameroon who died in childbirth due to lack of proper treatment, said that lending her voice was a no-brainer.
“I was taken with Prudence because my sister had many sad miscarriages and my mother had pre-eclampsia and would have died if she not had medical care,” she said, noting that she’s happy to give back.
“I just believe the true celebrities are the women who have been through so much. My job is an easy one. I simply tell their stories.”
• For more information, or to buy tickets, visit care.ca.