“A family can never fly if one of its wings is broken.”
Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women International, used this quote to describe how the world is missing out on the amazing capabilities of women due to their oppression and lack of opportunity. The documentary “Half the Sky” tells the stories of several women from all different countries including Cambodia, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, and Afghanistan. These women are living in unbelievably terrible conditions suffering from poverty, starvation, lack of education, rape, sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, genital mutilation, lack of proper medical care, lack of prenatal care, and more. A news reporter, Nicholas Kristof, is working to raise awareness about the oppression and maltreatment of women. He does this by recruiting celebrities to travel with him and provide their own thoughts as well as interviewing men and women who have worked to create programs to rescue girls and women from cruelty and neglect, and assist them in their journeys to recovery and bettering their futures. The more I listened to the stories of the poor victims of oppression, the luckier I felt to be living the life I do, because luck is all that separates me from any other woman in the world. I was born in the right place at the right time, and that’s the reason I have the rights I do. That’s obviously not the way it should be, and I have no words to express what a shame it is that, in this day in age, women are treated so poorly simply because of their gender and birthplace.
One particular woman’s story that really grabbed my attention was that of Somaly Mam, who is co-founder and president of a foundation created to rescue girls who are victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia. While learning about her life I couldn’t tell if I was more heartbroken about her past or stunned at how truly inspiring she is as a person. Her story is so amazing because she was once in the girls’ position, escaped, and she has now devoted her life to rescuing survivors, educating them, and empowering them to be strong and build bright futures. She literally turns their lives around 180 degrees, and I think it’s amazing because she relates so well to them, rather than just “coming to the rescue” from another country or lifestyle. This makes her a remarkable role model for the girls, and I am beyond impressed by her strength and dedication. C. G. Jung once said, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become.” I think this really sums up Somaly’s life because she has not only put her past behind her, but she has become more confident and powerful due to the horrific experiences she had. She is such a positive, caring, resilient woman who can leave you thinking you are capable of anything after watching her section of the movie.
Being a nursing major with a desire to specialize in neonatal care, I was astonished when the movie spoke about how many women and babies die from causes that could easily be prevented, but are not due to lack of money, gender oppression, religious beliefs. Malnourishment, anemia, and genital cutting are three primary causes of death of pregnant women in Somaliland, in addition to the lack of sufficient medical care as well as lack of control of one’s own body. Even in emergency situations, the husband has to give permission for a C-section because women have absolutely no say in anything. This is insane. Anyone with even a small background in the area of medicine knows that the solutions to these problems are very simple. Even nursing students could provide help to these women by monitoring vitals, giving nutritional supplements, bringing supplies, and making sure the birthing area is clean in order to avoid infection. It’s extremely sad that so many lives are lost because of such simple and avoidable complications.