Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

Watching Half the Sky is not easy.  It is a documentary about the oppression woman around the world face.  Coming from America it’s easy to forget how privileged we are.  In social media we constantly hear about the quest for gender equality.  These women are fighting for a different kind of equality.  They’re still fighting for basic rights.  The documentary follows a series of woman and girls through their lives and the struggles their facing and what they’ve overcome.  It’s hard to see what these females go through on an everyday basis.  There are stories about sex trafficking, child abuse, maternal mortality, child abuse and more.  It really puts things into perspective about how bad things still are elsewhere in the world and how far we still have to go.

Half the sky was full of powerful and moving stories.  One that stood out to me was a woman named Somaly Mam.  Somoaly Mam lives in Cambodia and is the founder of a group which rescues and cares for girls who have been engaged in the sex traffic trade.  Somaly herself was trafficked as a young girl.  She was able to escape and dedicated her life to helping girls who are in the same situation.  Somaly’s work is very dangerous.  She can’t work with local police; they may tip off brothel owners about a raid.  Instead she must work with the military in an effort to rescue girls.  Somaly describes sex trafficking as slavery.  Girls are sold, often by their parents who may be finically unstable, and bought by brothel owners.  They have no rights and are often kept in dirty rooms, locked from the outside.  Somaly works to give these girls a new life.  After they are rescued she brings them to a safe place where they receive and education and most importantly, love.

As someone studying to become a Physician Assistant the health care discussed in the second half of the movie stood out to me.  The ability to receive healthcare is a right in the United States.  In developing nations, like those scenes in the movie, it is a farfetched dream.  Pregnancy is a very dangerous time for women.  They do not receive proper care that we see as commonplace.  There are no pre-op appointments, health is not checked, and vitamins are not given.  As a woman in the movie explained, woman die every day from complications that are completely preventable.  Anemia and low blood pressure lead a woman to death.  As someone entering the healthcare profession, one of the best ways to make a contribution to this issue is to volunteer.  There are many companies, the most recognizable being Doctors Without Borders, that bring medical professionals to third world countries to treat and educate people about healthcare.  Quinnipiac’s Physician Assistant program actually has an optional missions trip of this variety.  I plan on attending this trip where we will go to Guatemala and provide healthcare for a week.

Half the Sky works to make woman’s oppression around the world a known issue.  Woman are not only oppressed in third world countries.  Sex trafficking and rape occur everywhere, even in the United States.  It is important for the public to be aware of these issues and help if possible.


One thought on “Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

  1. Nicole, I think it is so amazing that you are going to Guatemala on a missions trip! It will be such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I also agree that it is important that the public is informed about these issues and try to help make a change. It’s so unfortunate that a lot of these issues continue to go unspoken about, because not talking about it allows it to continue to happen. Hopefully more and more people will read this book like we did and feel inspired.


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