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A film by Maro Chermayeff

Runtime: 240 minutes (separated into six distinct chapters)

Closed Captioning included


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A passionate call-to-arms, urging us not only to bear witness to the plight of the world's women, but to help to transform their oppression into opportunity. Our future is in the hands of women everywhere.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, based on the widely acclaimed book by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn was filmed in 10 countries and follows Kristof, WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds — present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the opportunity to make a change. All over the world women are seizing this opportunity.


Institutional & Public Viewing Edition includes the following:

- Unlimited public performance rights for a single campus or location

- 2 DVD Box Set including 240 minutes of content, separated into six distinct chapters (more information about chapters below)

Over 90 minutes of bonus material, including 30 minutes of exclusive content

- Discussion Guide

- Screening Kit (poster artwork, stills, press kit, etc)

*If you were a member of the Half the Sky Campus Ambassador program, you are entitled to a discount. Please contact Kristin Cooney at [email protected] for more information.



“Thoroughly edifying, handsomely produced and buoyed by brave, resilient people fighting for basic equality.” — New York Times

Delicate mixture of heartbreak and inspiration is sure to move those who watch.” — Daily Beast

“Forego the fast-food line up of sitcoms and football and feed your mind with this TV version of the bestseller. Powerful and inspiring.” — Toronto Globe and Mail

“An emotional whirlwind...successfully provides a platform for stories often overlooked by the mainstream media.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune

“An ambitious two-night report...worth watching” — The Week

“The documentary doesn’t just tell uplifting stories; it promotes real solutions and the message that helping women helps the whole world.”  — Ms. Magazine

“Rare television experience that will bring the world into your living room.” — Vancouver Sun 


Chapter Descriptions

Chapter 1

Eva Mendes and Nicholas Kristof investigate gender-based violence in Sierra Leone, a country where most of the assaults and rapes go unreported. They meet with Amie Kandeh, who works with the International Rescue Committee and runs three of West Africa’s sexual assault referral centers. Kandeh reveals that the vast majority of the center’s rape and sexual assault cases are young women under 17, with 26 percent under age 12. At the police station with her parents by her side, 14-year-old Fulamatu accuses a pastor of raping her. We follow the case closely as several witnesses back up her statements, but justice proves elusive in a country where police officers conduct “armchair investigations” rather than look for evidence or confront the suspect, and where accusations of rape bring shame on the family of the victim rather than the perpetrator. 

Chapter 2

In Cambodia, where 30 percent of prostitutes are children, the series examines the issue of sex trafficking. Meg Ryan and Kristof meet Somaly Mam, herself sold into slavery as a young girl, but who is now a world-renowned leader in the anti-trafficking struggle. Mam runs a center to rehabilitate and educate girls rescued from brothels. She introduces Somana, sold at age 13 and forced to work as a prostitute, her eye gouged out by the brothel owner. When Mam learns that underage girls have been discovered in a brothel on the Thai border, she organizes a daring raid with the help of local authorities and Kristof and the cameras capture this dramatic and dangerous effort to free underage girls being held as sex slaves. Working tirelessly to bring the voices of these girls to the world, Mam uses innovative approaches, such as a weekly radio show, to raise awareness. “We’re going to change Cambodia,” she says. “We want you to hear from us. If you don’t listen to us, we’ll keep on talking. We’re not tired at all.” 

Chapter 3 

Gabrielle Union and Kristof visit Vietnam with former Microsoft marketing executive John Wood, who started Room to Read, an organization which works to promote literacy and equal education for girls across the developing world. In Vietnam women have been traditionally devalued, and many girls are kept at home to tend to household chores while boys continue their education. Duyen, a teenage girl in the Room to Read program, travels 17 miles by bike and boat to get to school from her rural home. Nhi, age 14, is the primary earner in the household, put to work by her father selling lottery tickets seven days a week. Phung, also 14, rises at 3:00 AM to care for her younger brothers and sisters while her father works as a day laborer. But she is going to school, encouraged and supported by her father, because they understand that education is their only way out of poverty.

Chapter 4

“Half a million women a year die in childbirth,” says Nicholas Kristof. “It’s not biology that’s killing them but neglect.” Diane Lane and Kristof investigate maternal mortality in Somaliland, where one in 12 women dies in childbirth due to poor nutrition and the effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) — also known as cutting — a brutal ritual that has been performed on more than 130 million women around the world. They meet with Edna Adan, founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, Somaliland’s first maternal health facility. Adan saves the lives of pregnant women on a daily basis with sophisticated health care and C-sections. She also trains midwives, who then return to their communities, and works to educate women about the dangers of FGM, which causes infection and scarring that leads to difficulties in childbirth. Lane and Kristof visit the hut of a local woman who performs cuttings and learn how Adan and her army of midwives are trying to turn the tide against this dangerous, deeply entrenched tradition. 

Chapter 5

In India it is estimated that 90 percent of sex workers’ daughters follow their mothers into prostitution and, of the three million prostitutes in the country, 1.2 million are children. In Kolkata, America Ferrera and Kristof visit the Kalighat red-light district to meet Urmi Basu, who is working to break the tradition of forced prostitution passed down from mothers to daughters. Basu’s New Light shelter program was established to protect and educate young girls, children, and women who are at high risk for commercial sexual exploitation. We meet two of the shelter’s brightest girls, whose mothers are still in active prostitution — Sushmita, whose mother believes her daughter can have a different future than her own and is thriving in private school and dreams of becoming a lawyer; and Monisha, whose mother wants her to return to her village and what Urmi is certain will be a life of prostitution. As Kristof says, “We, as Americans, have won the lottery of life and the distinction between us and people living in Kalighat is not that we are smarter, not that we’re harder working, not that we’re more virtuous — it’s that we’re luckier.” 

Chapter 6

Economic empowerment is key to turning the tide against poverty, violence, and the oppression of women. When women have money of their own, they invest more than twice as much as men in their families, education, and the future. In Kenya, Olivia Wilde joins Kristof to see firsthand how women entrepreneurs are changing not only their lives but their communities. Ingrid Munro founded Jamii Bora, a microfinancing organization for women; one of Jamii Bora's greatest success stories in Jane Ngori, a former prostitute and single mother of four who is now running a dressmaking business. in Nairobi, they meet Rebecca Lolosoli, the founder of an all-women's village called Umoja, which was established as a haven from rape and violence and sustains itself by creating and selling traditional beaded wares. "One of the best ways that we can deal with all of the abuses that are so troubling against women and girls is through economic empowerment," says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Unleashing the economic potential of women is a win-win economic strategy."

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