Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, are a Pulitzer Prize winning husband and wife team who, in addition to writing for the New York Times, have written a number of fantastic books. Two of my favorites are Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. Both are FANTASTIC resources for the global ed classroom. The entire text or just excerpts of relevant chapters can be used with high school students and more advanced middle school readers.
Working with Independent Lens and PBS, Kristof and WuDunn filmed two documentaries that provide an unforgettable look at the extraordinary people they met and places they traveled while researching the books. Both the books and the documentaries slap you in the face with significant and seemingly unsolvable problems of gender inequality, human trafficking, child slavery, violence, and poverty. In the midst of these horrific situations, you will meet exceptional individuals who resiliently maintain hope and care for themselves and each other while taking massive steps to make the world a better place.
Half the Sky Trailer
A Path Appears Trailer
Half the Sky
A Path Appears Text
A Path Appears Documentary
India is a dichotomy on many issues especially women’s issues. There is a big push for female empowerment which was evident in the school. The young women we interacted with were very academically successful, well spoken, and aware of a variety of global issues. We had the privilege of attending a Women’s Empowerment Panel Discussion where 4 students had been asked to give speeches on the topic and then lead a question and answer session.
Indian culture is a patriarchy. Many students not only live with their parents but also their paternal grandparents and dad/grandfather generally have the final say on issues although many girls are starting to speak up more in the home. This is not the norm though. The two big things that I noticed were: most men that I saw in the 3 cities that we were in wear western style dress. In Bangalore and Kolkata, women wear saris or salwar kameez which is the more traditional dress. The few women wearing western business attire work for the multinational tech firms or were flight attendants in uniform. In Delhi, some women wore skinny jeans, shirts, and heels and I even saw a few women wearing shorts. I wonder why women wear traditional dress and the men don’t. Because we flew from Bangalore to Kolkata and then from Kolkata to Delhi, we had to go through airport security for domestic flights. There are “women only” lines for going through security and I was not allowed to go through the men’s line in Kolkata and had to walk over to the women’s line to be body scanned with the hand scanner by a female TSA type officer. If the country is pushing for more equality and empowerment, why are there still separate lines? We also experienced this going into different cultural attractions and restaurants. Apparently there are also female only train cars for train travel. How is the concept of “separate but equal” going to bring true equality to both genders in India?
Here are 2 articles that take the issue more in-depth.
Gender Equity Issues in India
Women’s Rights Issues in India: Problems and Prospects
Four students at Shri Shikshayatan School gave speeches on Women’s Empowerment at a formal panel discussion this afternoon. The speeches were incredible. See for yourself!