Did you have the chance to watch Half the Sky on PBS last night? If not, check your local listings for the re-runs of this four part series based on the book of the same name, authored by the husband-wife New York Times reporting team Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.
Click to view the Trailer for Half the Sky on PBS
Trust me, once you watch it, or read the book, you won’t be able to sit still and you too will join the movement to end the oppression of women and girls around the globe. The authors and producers do an excellent job of conveying unbelievable daily atrocities like rape and maternal mortality in a way that keeps you watching, not turning away.
Why is this in a business column? Because the private sector, and companies in particular, have the global reach and influence to further the movement for solutions and change. Funders for Half the Sky include the furniture company Ikea Foundation, the Coca Cola Foundation, women’s health product maker Vagisil, Goldman Sachs Foundation, Nike Foundation (parent to Maine’s Cole Haan) and Intel, among others.
You never know what will be the catalyst that moves you from concerned interest to stepping up and doing something. A couple of years ago I brought a client to participate in a live segment promoting their product on The View, the ABC show with Barbara Walters and her morning crew. But what moved me, the client and the entire audience was a different segment, where the Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson spoke about a campaign to end sex trafficking of young girls – one of the fundamental human rights issues addressed in Half the Sky. She implored us to go home and ask our local police what we could do.
Sadly, as my local Sheriff informed me, trafficking girls and women for sex is not a phenomenon limited to Cambodia or Ethiopia. It is happening in Maine today. That let me to join the Board of Directors for Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (SARRSM) which provides crisis support for victims, as well as preventative measures like anti-bullying curriculum in public schools in Cumberland and York Counties. Today SARSSM is partnered with Portland city police and two dozen other organizations to launch the Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking and Exploitation to do something about it.
Want to join the movement? The Half the Sky website has information for how you can help find answers and solutions. Here at home, ask your local authorities. Get involved. Donate time and money to non-profits in the Coalition. And engage your employer, as businesses have a unique role to play in working toward solutions.