The book turned documentary Half the Sky is an expose that shows the challenges women around the world face on a daily basis. The authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, traveled around the world to witness the awful conditions women live with. It is extremely powerful because it shows the audience a world that most have never seen before, and encourages them to seek out a change throughout the world.
To me, the piece that best shows the overall message is the name. According to the authors, the name comes from a famous saying from Former Chairman of the Communist Part Mao Zedong. He said, “Women hold up half the sky.” (Cooke Web). This means that women are equal to men, and that neither side is capable of holding up the sky alone. With teamwork and an equal amount of effort, men and women are capable of anything. There are places in the world where women have absolutely no rights due to the culture around them. It leaves the men in the society to “hold up” the sky, which means it can come crashing down even more quickly. The reality of it all is that men need women to help carry the burden that is the sky, and vice versa. To alienate one group away and attempt to carry the burden by oneself would just cause destruction.
The story that stuck with me the most was Meena’s, who was a twelve-year-old I sex slave in India. The documentary showed that many girls are kidnapped at a young age, or are sold into slavery by their parents due to their poor backgrounds. The girls are often given drugs in order to get them addicted and stuck in a continuous cycle. Due to the nature of the business, these young girls are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. It was sad to watch because you could see that these children did not want to be living the lives they currently have. Instead of enjoying their childhood, they are trapped in a brothel with their lives wasting away. There were attempts to help these people, like social workers going undercover to assist sex workers, but for the most part they have failed. They need these jobs to support their families, and for some, it is the only life they know. The worst part was the look the women carried on their faces during the interviews. Their faces said that they knew how bad their lives, but there was nothing they could do to change anything. I think that it shows that as a global community, we have failed our neighbors. To see that some people are oppressed and have no hope of being saved, it shows that we still have a lot of changes we need to make in order to ensure everyone has their naturally given rights.
I think the biggest thing my area of study (public relations) would be to try and effect social change. An example discussed in the documentary was the idea of using soap opera like television show with strong female figures. This would begin to reinforce the idea that women are strong and independent. Through my field of study, I have seen non-profit organizations working to help raise awareness for specific causes. For example, we have done work through Quinnipiac clubs and the United Nations to help combat malaria across the world. I believe that people in the public relations profession could take the information gained from documentaries and books like Half the Sky and efficiently spread it to the general public. It may not be directly helping the women in tough situations, but it may help inform more people in countries where we do not have these problems, and gain assistance towards the cause.
Cooke, K. (2013, March 07). Holding up half the sky. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.smh.com.au/national/holding-up-half-the-sky-20130307-2fo0u.html