TL11 “Holding up Half the Sky” by Lauren Kantrovitz, in Florence Italy.

“Half the sky” was one of the most touching documentaries I have seen to this date. I think it is really difficult now a days to one, find a film that does not sugar coat problems that are occurring in the world, and two, to even find a movie that really reflects on the problems that are occurring ‘all’ around the world. The US is the capital of entertainment, which has really become apparent coming to the US. I had always wondered prior how so many people around the world knew of music artists and actors from the US and songs of example could be considered global hits. On account of the fact that most movies are produced in the US, if a documentary is made about an issue like that of women, where other than salary, has really made strides and may not be considered a pressing matter, may not be documented to show others how women around the world are treated. Half the Sky was able to depict so many different ways women can and are being mistreated around the world from rape, to poverty, to being uneducated and disrespected as a person. It is important that more people are informed of occurrences like this around the world as it is something that must change. The US holds so much power throughout the world and there is no reason why we should not at least feel obligated to educated and thus empower people to want to make a change.

Stories involving prostitution really touched me in particular as it was done as a way to survive, some being pushed by their families to do so, or some just to get an education so one can escape the life they are currently living. Women, nor does anyone, deserve to be used for sex trafficking, given unequal rights, or a lack of education. I find it astonishing to ponder that in the US, most are committed to an education in order to move towards a better job and earn money however it so many parts of the world, people are partaking in acts like prostitution in order to become simply educated, because otherwise, school and the opportunity to learn may not be in the cards for them. Showma, a girl from India who was forced into prostitution, with her life at stake if she did not comply with the people that kidnapped and obtained her. She was forced to entertain clients, even if she was feeling ill, of which I’m sure she felt mentally everyday. It is so sad how rape and prostitution, where in many scenarios like that of this is tragically forced upon girls and can have the power to make them feel unimportant and “disposable” as Showma described herself. It is important that we always realize that even if times are bad, there is a way out and the bad does not reflect who we are but how we act to defy those situations in order to better ourselves. No one else can tell us our worth and it is extremely sad that many women around the world are forcefully being placed in situations where they cannot defy the bad. Fortunately, Showma was rescued and didn’t allow a situation that took years from her life, to take away the entirety of her existence. She now has a daughter and is a wonderful role model to her daughter and to women and people around the world that we should take the harsh realities that are thrown our way and use them to make us stronger.

One of the stories that also really touched me was Nhi, a young girl who is forced everyday to take the parental role towards her younger brother, tutoring him, while going to school and being the breadwinner of the family. Her father forces her to sell lottery tickets as an occupation and does the same himself but almost entirely relying on his daughter. If she did not make her quota for the day, he would beat her, thus leaving her to make a decision of whether she could even come home where she would be beaten if she did not reach that amount. At the same time she is paying for her education both financially, with the little money she is able to save for herself, and physically, on account of her father, It is very refreshing to hear a story where someone has so much drive to do something when the odds are completely against her. Although she is not where she would like to be yet, she is making progress slowly which is always better than doing nothing at all. This sends a great message to not only women, but men as well, to always fight for something that we want even if it seems too far fetched, there is a way, as long as one is willing to persevere and put in the work. Additionally, it really puts into perspective how lucky so many, like myself, are to have such a great education as so many, likely more than not, do not have the opportunity to do so. Although it can be difficult to get up early for school and sometimes studying may not be the first thing on one’s list of things to do, we must keep in mind that the opportunity to study alone and read from books is something we are so fortunate as we could have easily been born into a life requiring us to do what many of us refer to as rock bottom by selling our bodies or drugs for money.

Edna Adana Ismail, a women who founded the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, particularly inspired me as I am a Biomedical Sciences major, hoping to one day become a doctor and help those around me. Health care personnel were of great need which is why she pushed for a hospital in order to prevent maternal and infant mortality rates from rising further. She built a hospital from the ground up and is a real hero as she has saved countless lives. Edna’s story shows how important health care really is and how we are so fortunate to have such a great health care system as compared to most regions of the world. Everyone deserves their lives to be saved, health care or not, and I would love to one day play a role in that as a Doctor in a healthcare setting but also by volunteering for an organization like Doctors Without Borders so I can help those in need from other countries.

Kristof, N. D., & WuDunn, S. (2009). Half the sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. New York. Alfred A. Knopf.

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