The powerful message in the movie “Half the Sky” is personified by personal stories throughout the world. Firsthand accounts by women facing extreme oppression in countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia and Kenya and many other developing nations. The overall message in this powerful documentary is that women in these areas are facing a modern day tyranny in the form of sex trafficking, forced prostitution, maternal mortality, and gender-based violence. The movie also attempts to show potential ways to help lessen the damage through microfinancing and female education.
The architects of this project go by the names Nick Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. The duo and their team of colleagues and celebrity sponsors set out to deliver the viewers a look into the world of female oppression. The documentary conveys to its viewers that the oppression of women is a serious issue in the developing world. The men abuse the women both physically and mentally in an attempt to maintain the structure that keeps them in a position of power. It is essentially a culture issue at heart, in the sense that the culture of these societies are rigid in their role of women within the society. Women find it extremely difficult to escape the cycle of oppression in their community because they are prevented from doing so by financial restrictions or physical prevention by the men. These notions regarding the oppression of women in the developing world were outlined by many different women. One women in particular that struck me as important was Jane Ngoiri from Kenya.
The protagonist of this section of the documentary, Jane, is introduced as a dress maker. Jane is a powerful woman who previously worked as a commercial sex worker in order to provide whatever she could for her family. Once in a position to better her life, Jane transitioned into the business of dress making to support her children’s education. Her children are now at the top of their respective classes, and make their mother extremely proud. Jane’s story exemplifies the importance of women within the societies discussed in this film. Men are essentially privileged in the sense that the burden of raising a child and supporting the family financially is not in their hands. Jane displays this notion through the quote, “Mothers are the key to getting the family out of poverty, they will not waste money on anything except on the kids.” I found this quote to be utterly shocking because it is contradictory to common belief. Those in the developed yet ignorant world often believe that the men are the providers for underdeveloped societies and this is where their sense of superiority derives from. In many cases, the women are both the providers and the caretakers of the family unit. This story invokes and sense of helplessness. In order to combat this sympathetic reaction, the women provide silver linings and courage that give us the sense of hope and progress.
As a political science major, I can view this from a perspective that is analytical in the context of our political sphere. Underdeveloped nations are a platform topic in many of the branches of government that are regularly debated. The aid and financial intervention that countries like the US provide to third world nations are crucial to those recipients’ citizens. Without the aid, these nations would be war-torn and ultimately barely habitable. In my area of study, we delve into the ways in which a political arm of government could build on the progress that is currently being made for these people. People in my area of study tend to work their way into positions of political power. Practical ways for individuals in political science to help is to utilize that power to promote bills and action by the government to help women’s oppression.