Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

Well that was depressing to say the least. I’ve never really seen that much hardship and despair visually. I’ve always heard of the plights of underdeveloped nations but never seen it from that perspective. To get the full impact of this documentary and really convey the overall message people would need to actually see the work. I can try my best to express the horridness and awful conditions that the women in the film face on a day to day basis though. The documentary “Half the Sky” is based on a novel of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Both these works    focus on the hardships of women living in extremely difficult circumstances in various places throughout the globe. Both pieces of work also are meant to spread the word about a topic that most people overlook, with the video meant to reach a larger audience than the book (more people today watch films rather than read books). It shows the effects of poverty and violence that put women into dangerous areas such as prostitution, sex trafficking, and rape. Some of the countries shown include Kenya, Liberia, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, and the United States of America to name a few. The overall reason behind the documentary is to spread the word of these atrocities women have to live in under these extreme circumstances. There needs to be more awareness and support for these women who don’t have the ability to help themselves. The documentary wants to introduce a larger audience to this and move more people towards contributing towards stopping the cycle of despair and poverty.

One women’s story that stood out to me was when Olivia Wilde travelled to the Kibera slum in Kenya, 20 minutes from Nairobi. This slum is the largest slum in Africa and the 2nd largest in the world, 2nd only to Neza Cholco Itza in Mexico City. This story stood out to me because it dealt with the education of some of the small girls in the slum through the Shipping Hope for the Community Program. I think that the education of the women youth in Africa would be the best form of long term solution for this global problem, so they can be educated enough to fight for what is right and against the horror of the slums. Olivia Wilde was so taken aback by the message of the book by Nicholas Kristof that she jumped at the opportunity to go out and participate in the documentary. Once she got to Kibera she was taken aback by the intelligence of these small underprivileged girls and their capabilities. Already 82% were performing at U.S grade level or above. Some of the other statistics she was told had the opposite effect on her, making her disgusted. She was told that 30% of the young girls had been raped, many of them at 5 years old, and half of them were malnourished.

These statistics and the message of the novel moved Olivia to help in any way that she could, so she decided to use her capabilities and career of acting to help benefit these girls, that way being through the documentary. The statistics of the young girls and their stories got to me as well. It’s disgusting that this is happening in places like Kibera around the globe and that not much is being done to stop it. The purpose of the documentary, to spread the awareness and move people to action, definitely worked on me and hopefully worked on other people as well. The movement got Olivia Wilde and actresses like her to use their careers towards helping the cause and volunteering to help the women riddled with violence and poverty. I think I could also use my future career of marketing in ways to benefit the cause. The documentary is good in opening society’s eyes about the subject, but I think even more people could be moved towards helping and volunteering with the right type of marketing. If the cause was marketed not only in novels and documentaries but using platforms such as social media we could let more people know about the subject and move more people towards volunteering. The more people who know the more people like Jessica Posner, the Co-founder of Shining Hope for the Community there can be. Although some people aren’t open to physically volunteering in the area, the increase of awareness can help in more donations towards the cause, eventually leading towards the betterment of all women’s lives in underdeveloped communities throughout the globe.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

  1. I agree with you that this was probably one of more visually disturbing things that I have viewed in my whole life. To hear about these hardships and to view them are very different experiences. I felt so moved by all of the women’s stories and I like that you mentioned how important it is to have celebrities involved in this cause. I talked about the importance of people like involving their time and money because it brings about greater awareness. It is interesting that you saw a tie to your major back home at QU– you definitely have a point that these plights need to be marketed in more campaigns to hopefully spread greater awareness and bring out greater involvement from the developed world in terms of resources .

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  2. Sam, this was really a hard film to watch. I agree with you when you say that with the right type of marketing, people can really be moved in such a way that they are compelled to help. I did not know about this book/documentary until this course, so I too believe that if we can some how increase awareness on social media and other places on the internet so that people learn more about this, we can really make a difference. Watching the film or reading the book is a start, but actually doing something after that such as donating or organizing ways to help these people is something on a whole different level.

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