Half the Sky

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The Book

Half the Sky is a book co-authored by New York Times journalists and married couple Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn. The book was published in 2009 and became a national best seller. It is a chronicle of the couple's travel of the world in order to showcase the hardships that women face in world wide communities. There are a series of stories from their travels and from other people's experiences on the subject.

Towards the beginning of the book, WuDunn states that the point of the stories and their argument is to turn the reader into an activist. There are three main challenges to women equalities, Sex Trafficking, Maternal Mortality, and Education, which Half the Sky would like to make the reader aware of. The stories are meant to make the reader stand up after reading the book and take action against injustices for women worldwide. They give many ways to help, naming at least a hundred organizations that the reader could research and then get involved with. They also give a greater argument against organizations just blindly giving to people in developing countries. Kristof and WuDunn stated that in most cases just giving food or supplies will create a much more dangerous situation for the person or people the organization is trying to help. Say an organization drops food or medical supplies in a country, the book argues that it is much more likely that either the corrupt government agents or other locals that also are lacking food will take all of the given supplies and the people who the organization was trying to help will be without. WuDunn and Kristof wrote this book to show how to better the lives of women and in turn better the lives of the community. Half the Sky champions the model of education. Education for women and men, if there is an equality in education then many aspects of life will be better for the community. Educating women and keeping them in schools makes it so that they can speak for themselves, and can achieve more opportunities. If you educate a man however, the number of children will remain the same, however if you educate a woman, she will have significantly less children. More women become ambitious and want to put off having a family, so they educate themselves on contraception or abstinence. Women who can read are better for the community as a whole, more income can come to that community as a result, so building schools is definitely on the list of things “Sky” wants to see relief efforts focus on. The book also hails efforts of micro-financing, loaning people in developing countries the things (whether it be supplies or money) that they need to become a small business owner, so that they may sell goods and be able to support themselves in the future. This could prevent the women of these countries from heading to the brothels at the age of 12 or even younger. They think that building hospitals will help to reduce the child mortality rate which will bring down family size because women will be less concerned about their children dying so they will give birth to less. Half the Sky also thinks that women issues need to come to the forefront of worldwide issues, and to do that in the US it means that both parties need to make some concessions and work together. [1]

The Movement

After the book was published, Kristof and WuDunn created the Half The Sky Movement, an organization that uses its resources to educate people about women's rights and equality and the events of women's inequality all around the world. They do this using four different tools. [2]

TV Series

A 4-hour television series for PBS and international broadcast, shot in ten countries: Cambodia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and the U.S. Traveling with intrepid reporter Nicholas Kristof and A-list celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde, the series introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable—and fighting bravely to change them. Their intimate, dramatic and immediate stories of struggle reflect viable and sustainable options for empowerment and offer an actionable blueprint for transformation.


Mobile Game

With low-cost handsets and increasing penetration of mobile phone networks globally, millions of people that don’t have regular access to computers or fixed-line telephones now use mobile devices as daily tools for communication and data transfer. Under the leadership of Games for Change and supported by USAID, the mobile games project will see the creation of three games aimed at communities in India, Kenya and Tanzania. Audiences in these countries will be able to explore games such as “9 Minutes” (healthy birthing practices), “Worm Attack!” (deworming awareness), and “Family Values” (highlighting the place and value of girls in their family).

Facebook Game

Games for Change is working with top Facebook developers and social media experts to produce a cutting edge game that turns game-play into real-world activism. The experience aims to engage millions of players globally, and transform their digital engagement into real-world actions and micro-donations, building the capacity of the existing NGO network and partners of Half the Sky. The game is set to launch following the television broadcast, in the end of 2012.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Both game projects (the mobile games and the facebook game) are developing a robust analytics layer to augment traditional evaluation. Also known as “embedded assessment”, indicators are planted in the games’ code to track how players make progress, what features they use, which they neglect, where they get stuck, and where they leave the experience. Additionally, through the real-world action component on Facebook, Games for Change will be able to measure in real-time incoming donations, non-monetary actions and how the game builds NGOs’ capacity on the ground.

Web Content

Half the Sky will have two hubs for content on the web, at pbs.org and halftheskymovement.org. These partner sites will feature new and original content as well as a blog, social media feeds, celebrity and crew diaries, and up-to-date information about Nick and Sheryl's continuing work related to the issues. Visitors will be able to engage with the issues, connect with our 35+ partner NGOs, and become activists themselves.

Educational Tools

In addition to the television series, the project includes production of more than 20 short advocacy and educational videos on a variety of issues. These video modules were designed in partnership between HALF THE SKY and partner NGOs, and they will be used by these NGOs to engage constituencies, communities, local governments, and opinion leaders on key gender issues.

Each video will cover a specific critical issue in the manner that best serves the organization’s goals, and helps to directly build their operational and outreach capacities. The videos are also being produced with the goal of reaching the greatest number of viewers through multiple distribution plans, tailored to each video.


  1. Half the Sky Book
  2. http://www.halftheskymovement.org/pages/about-half-the-sky-movement
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