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In their book Half the Sky (see the Banner review by Meg Jenista), married journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn told the moving stories of women around the world. These stories exposed the lack of education, freedom, economic power, and basic human rights experienced by so many women. Now Kristof and WuDunn have collaborated on a documentary also called Half the Sky. Part of the Women and Girls Lead initiative encouraging organizations to empower women and girls to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, the movie brings viewers into the homes and lives of women and girls around the world. It emphasizes both their horrific situations and their incredible strength in the face of adversity.

One segment focuses on education and explores the lives of girls in Vietnam who are supported by an organization called Room to Read. Another about economic development interviews women in Kenya who have overcome abuse and poverty to start their own businesses through a microlending organization. Other segments address maternal mortality, forced prostitution, sex trafficking, and gender-based violence. Some of the stories and situations are quite disturbing, so parents should use discretion.

Half the Sky enlisted a group of female celebrities to visit these areas because they know that star power brings more audience interest. You’ll also hear briefly from activists and public figures from Hillary Clinton to Desmond Tutu. But the real stars of the show are the lovely women who are fighting terrific odds, and in some situations the families who make tremendous sacrifices to allow that to happen.

This important and powerful documentary will be available on DVD November 13. Now available on iTunes, it will begin streaming on Netflix on November 1, according to the Half the Sky Movement website. Author and collaborator WuDunn will also be speaking at the January Series at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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