Our guest blogger is Martha Marin, women’s right activist and prevention educator. Martha has been a force for creating safe communities for women through her role as an educator, lobbying for better laws, and leading groups to understand the impact they have on women and human rights.
PBS recently aired a 2 part documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide based on the same book by journalists/activists Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof. “Half The Sky” tells the story of women, who in many countries are not regarded as equals. In the documentary, socially responsible celebrities like Meg Ryan and Diane Lane highlight the abuse of women and how this oppression negatively affects the economy and everyone across the globe. Using stories they create awareness and inspire the mobilization of a global movement.
Much of the world’s women and girls live in forced poverty, sex slavery, and female genital mutilation. The abuses reported in “Half The Sky” stem from societal attitudes perpetuated by both the perpetrator and the their victims. These stereotypes have been woven directly into every system, culture, and country for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Women and girls are “the largest group targeted for abuse in all of history”. As an educator on issues concerning violence I always begin with the dissection of gender roles, stereotypes, and how they negatively affect a society. Historically we know that women are taught to be weak, powerless, and to be followers. We are also led to believe in “male entitlement”. It is due to these very stereotypes that countries today are wasting 50% of their potential revenue. In business terms that is a massive opportunity cost! Oppression is counterintuitive for progress but it is an effective way of controlling an entire gender.
Why should you watch “Half the Sky” with your teens and why should this be a topic of discussion? It is our job to teach boundaries, respect, and empathy. Although it may look different it is happening in your town. Sex trafficking, genital mutilation, and rape happen in developed countries.
“Half The Sky” will educate your teens and create awareness, which is the best defense against the leading causes of sexual traumas. Then put what you learned into practice:
Support legitimate initiatives in other countries
Donate our expertise to non-profits here or abroad
Join or create task forces or student groups
Give classes on oppression
Donate hygiene packs for rape crisis centers.
Learn about policies and vote.
“Half The Sky” focuses on inspiring people who are showing us how to be stewards of healing, joy, and prosperity. We the elders in the village are the wards of it’s future. Your child may be the next Gandhi, Mandela, or Mother Theresa. Plant that seed today by watching Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide or reading the book..