Movie Review-Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide


PBS first showed this documentary as part of its Independent Lens series and I think it was introduced by George Clooney at that time. This story that focuses on gender inequality was taken from NY Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDann’s 2009 best seller. For starters you should know this is a four hour, yes four hour presentation. But, the time went by really fast because the stories will get your attention immediately with their heartfelt message of both positive change and also courage to work in a system that at times you had to go against. This is basically a journey by 6 different actresses in six different places, and shows a lot of unpleasant situations but also creates a brave role model for anyone who may have been in these situations. The first story is Eva Mendes in Sierra Leone, and this is about Gender Based Violence. You get to see and hear how most attacks against the women go unreported, and that the representative of the International Rescue Committee whose efforts to help these women to protect themselves and educate them about all this. The reps name is Amie Kandeh and to sit there and watch all this, you just really feel for her and gain so much respect. This was both sad in parts, and really heartwarming in others.

Next up was Meg Ryan in Cambodia with Sex Trafficking. This one I will be honest, you cannot watch it without crying, this hits you so hard in the chest that you feel it throughout. When Ryan and Kristof meet a leader in the anti-trafficking named Somaly, you just automatically feel for her. She tells the story of how she was sold as a sex slave as a kid. And we also learn that a third of all prostitutes are children. This is hard to watch and even harder to think it exists. This really blurs the line for me between what a man truly is and what a fucking animal truly is. This is sad and so hard hitting. Next up we have Gabrielle Union in Vietnam, and this focuses around education. We learn that Vietnam pulls girls out of school, treated poorly and not given the same chances and opportunities as boys. Union and Kristof visit this place with Microsoft marketing executive John Wood. Wood introduced people to Room to Read, this is an organization that helps both literacy and equal opportunity education. This story was more feel good, and it really would inspire anyone to help anyone obtain an education. This was cool to watch, how the kids wants to learn, and that they are given a fair shot.

The rest of the dvd is basically the same, covering everything from women who die in child birth, forced prostitution and education. The topics are hard hitting and the Maternal Mortality is quite frankly going to really disturb the viewers a lot, because it is just so sad and very painful to listen to or watch. But, all in all this is a must watch for anyone who wants to help, and anyone who believes in equality.

8 out of 10