Spotlight on social action: Half the Sky at Wash. U.
The Washington University chapter of the Half the Sky Movement has only been on campus for one year and has already sparked conversations, awareness events and action in the Wash. U. community. Half the Sky is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the opportunities available to women and girls throughout the developing world. The organization raises awareness of forced prostitution, gender-based violence, maternal mortality and sex trafficking. In addition, Half the Sky supports educational and economic development programs for women and children, especially girls, who are disproportionately affected by discrimination and violence. The Half the Sky Movement was inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s 2009 New York Times best-seller, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” and the release of a PBS documentary in 2012.
At Wash. U., the group organizes events to raise awareness of the realities faced by women and children around the world, including screenings of the PBS documentary, biweekly meetings to discuss Half the Sky’s current projects, campus-wide events and Dining for Women Dinners. At each Dining for Women Dinner, the group discusses the work of an international organization that is improving the lives of women around the world.
“Every chapter around the country hosts a dinner where we learn about the organization, prepare and eat food from that country, and collect donations to give to that organization. Each dinner supports a different organization from different countries around the world,” Half the Sky External President Mackenzie Findlay, a junior, said.
The group uses film screenings and discussions to connect students with the daily struggles of women and girls living in developing countries around the world, which may seem far away from the Wash. U. community.
“I find that a lot of Wash. U. students are extremely well-traveled and have been exposed to poverty and gender inequalities, so efforts like ours resonate deeply with them. For those that aren’t, I know that seeing the reality on film can be very eye-opening,” Findlay said.
For the fall semester, the group plans to continue working to raise awareness of these issues both on campus and abroad.