Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” by Micaela Buttner. Gold Coast, Australia

Equality between the sexes is non-existent in many parts of our world. As much as people want to say that men and women have equal opportunities and rights, they don’t. Or better put, women are not always treated as an equal. In the documentary Half the Sky, the violations of women human rights are portrayed within developing countries. Women all over the world deal with oppression of their body and need help from our global community so they can feel safe and protected. In this documentary, maternal mortality, sex trafficking, education, abuse, female genital mutilation and more are discussed while traveling to six different countries. When the author, Nicholas Kristof, traveled to each country, he brought along a different celebrity advocate each time to address the situations occurring. Through each story, the harsh cruelty woman and their body endure is brought to light.

Each location Kristof and his team visited were developing countries. In Half the Sky, it is stated that “One of the most effective ways to fight poverty and bolster poor communities is through investing in education, particularly that of girls.” Once you let women use their potential, economic progress will soon follow. A particular girl’s story really impacted me and made my appreciation for education grow even more. In Vietnam, a girl named Nhi goes to school during the day and when she comes home has to sell lottery tickets to support her family. In the documentary, she begins to cry because her hard work goes unnoticed to her father. When Nhi’s father is asked if she makes him proud, he replies with “No, not yet. She still has a lot more she has to do first.” (Half the Sky) She receives very little affection and love from her father, who will not even help her pay for a tutor. Nhi’s education is oppressed by her father, which causes her to live more difficult of a life. It is stated in the video that she often cries when someone goes to give her affection, which leads viewers to believe she is physically abused as well. She is only fourteen years old, yet finds time to study and provide an income for her father. The first step to living a successful life is education and the program, Room to Read, is helping and guiding Nhi to that life she is so deserving of. I sometimes take for granted that I get the great education that I do at Quinnipiac because in America you are expected to study and go to college. My parents would never deny me of that opportunity and have supported me in every step of my college career. I find it very empowering that at such a young age Nhi is so determined to make sure she will have a bright future. Slimbach says, “A ‘developing’ society was one that progressed from one condition to another, more desirable condition. Traditionally, this idea of positive change was linked to economic growth.” (pg 33) If women become educated and contribute their abilities to their society, economic growth will occur.

Another aspect of oppression was portrayed in this documentary – medical attention. As a college student pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant, this really upsets me. Every person deserves the right to proper health care and treatment. In the documentary it is shown that in developing countries the rates of maternal mortality are extremely high. Women are not given the right to seek proper healthcare and are actually not expected to. One pregnant woman in the documentary suffered anemia and low blood pressure, which quickly led to her death. Pregnancy can be accompanied by many health concerns if not properly handled. Normally when a woman is pregnant, they have multiple doctors’ visits throughout the term of the pregnancy to make sure the health of the baby and themselves is of no concern. Problems such as eclampsia, diabetes, infection and bleeding can occur if not treated. Also, if a medical professional is not delivering the baby, it is essential that whoever is knows how to do so. If the umbilical cord is wrapped around the child’s neck or if the baby is expelled from the mother too quickly, death of the baby or excessive bleeding can occur. Things like this are happening in our world due to oppression of a woman’s body. As educated healthcare professionals, it is essential to help these parts of the world as much as possible my sharing and teaching our knowledge. There are many faculty led healthcare trips in colleges across the country that aim to educate developing countries. If individuals in this field are capable of taking the time to do this, then more people can learn how to make sure a pregnancy and birth are healthy and safe.

Half the Sky aims to educate and make everyone aware of the oppression women are still facing around the world. It may not seem like helping one child does much, but for that one person you are changing their whole life. Changing one life is just a stepping-stone for changing the lives of other children and future generations. This is just the beginning to ending oppression against women and their bodies.


Works Cited

Nicholas Kristof.”Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2010).


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