Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn brought much-needed attention to the plight of women around the world. It was the first book that I read about global women’s issues, and one that is repeatedly discussed or referred to on the subject. The portraits of human trafficking in the book are heartbreaking yet empowering stories, since the resilience of these girls and women is extraordinary. Their lives are a testament to the power of human endurance and strength – the fact that after facing such trauma, one can fight back and build a new life is an ability that we all have. But we are not tested equally. Some girls and women face far more persecution than we can imagine and are incredibly vulnerable in their societies.
I wasn’t surprised to discover that the book had inspired others as well, and in fact is the basis for a new exhibit (that runs until March) at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA. I visited the exhibit this past Sunday with my Applied Anthropology class, and was struck by the exhibit’s warm and fluid design, as well as its hands-on aspect, with advocacy booths and letter-writing stations. As my professor noted, the exhibit is an excellent example of applied anthropology – research that has social and political use. We wrote letters to the women and signed petitions to our representatives in Congress about funds for education, centers for women, and international aid. When we bought our tickets for the exhibit, we each received a microloan certificate which we then activated. We selected a country, and then a type of business, typed in our email addresses, and will be receiving an update on the women whom our gift was sent to. I had a great afternoon with my class at the exhibit, and I was happy to see that there were plenty of people there (even though most were quite a bit older… but that’s why my professor is going to take her Public Health class in the spring!). I even missed the American Music Awards to go (my friends had invited me at the last minute), which I am today still so-so about missing 😛
Enjoy the photos and please see the exhibition if you can!