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Video: Panel Discussion Following the Screening of "Half the Sky"

Panel discussion following the screening of "Half the Sky," a documentary about women overcoming difficult circumstances all over the world.

February 14, 2013

China is one of the lenses WuDunn and Kristof use to highlight issues affecting women and girls in their book, Half the Sky. Issues that Chinese women face include a lack of investment in education in poor rural areas, gender imbalance due to forced or sex-selective abortions, and discrimination in the workplace.  Yet the authors also use China to illustrate the vast improvements that have been made for women over time and their consequent effects. 

The knowledge that Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof gained about the status of women and girls during their time living in China as journalists helped to solidify the urgent need to change perceptions about gender globally. The authors write: “China has traditionally been one of the more repressive and smothering places for girls, and we could see hints of this in Sheryl’s own family history.” When Sheryl’s grandfather’s first wife could not bear sons, he married another wife who could, forgetting about the family who came before Sheryl’s own. 

While Chinese women do still face discrimination and more traditional views about women overall, the authors acknowledge that China offers maternity benefits, Chinese men are beginning to do more household work, and Chinese women are often leading decision-making in the home. Even more importantly, the authors show that the “emancipation” of women has allowed for China’s tremendous growth. In fact, according to the book, 80 percent of the workers in China’s coastal factories are female. They also write about a young girl in rural China who could not afford her $13 school fee. After mobilizing donors from their news articles, the school could now offer scholarships to keep girls in school. The young girl was able to stay in school and now is an entrepreneur. By illuminating changes in China, WuDunn and Kristof are able to thread together their main argument that investing in and caring about women and girls worldwide, aside from a very credible moral case, has exponential benefits. 


This video is also available on the USCI YouTube Channel.

Ange-Marie Hancock, Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies

Ange-Marie Hancock joined the Department of Political Science in 2008 after five years as Assistant Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Yale University. Hancock has served as an international expert in American Politics for the U.S. Department of State and during the 2008 presidential election. Professor Hancock is a globally recognized scholar of the study of intersectionality – the study of the intersections of race, gender, class and sexuality politics and their impact on public policy.


Allison Lee, Executive Director, Southern California American Jewish World Service

Allison has served as the Los Angeles Regional Director of the American Jewish World Service since 2008 and was recently named the Executive Director. As the head of the Southern California operation, Allison works to enhance AJWS’s visibility in the region, expand the donor base, increase revenue, forge new partnerships in the Jewish community and promote AJWS education, service-learning and advocacy initiatives. Allison has over twenty years of nonprofit organizational experience. Prior to joining AJWS, she worked as a fundraising consultant providing a full-spectrum of development and communication services for both Jewish and social service organizations. She holds a B.A. in American studies and political science from Tufts University. She is married to Rabbi Kenneth Chasen, the senior rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple, and they have three children together.

Ruthi Hoffman Hanchett, Child Well-Being & Rights Community of Practice Advisor from World Vision International

Ruthi has policy & advocacy and programmatic experience on issues related to gender equity, children’s right to education, child participation, and child protection issues, such as trafficking and sexual exploitation.  In her current role, Ruthi leads the community of practice for World Vision staff focused on children’s well-being and rights, which include practitioners and experts in child protection, child rights and advocacy, trafficking, mental health and psychosocial support, children in emergencies, etc. Ruthi has represented World Vision International at several multilateral events and groups, including the UN Commission on the Status of Women, The UN Human Rights Council, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion.  She served on the NGO Advisory Council on Violence Against Children and the UN Girls Education Initiative. A highlight of her work was in 2008, when she led 40 World Vision staff and youth delegates in the III World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. Ruthi supported 16 children from around the world to speak out against sexual exploitation and advocate with world leaders to fight this abuse. Her current work is largely focused on child participation and encouraging children and adults to partner for children’s well-being and protection. Ruthi volunteers regularly in local and national efforts to fight human trafficking, lecturing regularly to college groups and at advocacy events. Ruthi is a wife and mother and has a Master’s degree in Rhetorical Theory.

Laurie Becklund, Fellow, Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities

Laurie is a Los Angeles writer and editor whose books include SWOOSH: The Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There (with J. B. Strasser) and Between Two Worlds, an Iraqi memoir (with Zainab Salbi). She is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer, reporting extensively from Mexico and Central America, and shares a Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. She has also received the Society of Professional Journalists’ award for best deadline writing nationwide. She lives in Hollywood with her husband, former Times staff writer Henry Weinstein, and their daughter.

Ima Matul, Survivor Coordinator, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)

Ima is survivor of child labor trafficking. In 1997, Ima was trafficked to the United State when she was 17 and was enslaved for 3 years as a domestic servant. After reaching out to a neighbor for help, she was able to escape and was connected to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), an LA Based agency that provides services and advocacy for survivors of human trafficking. In 2005 Ima joined CAST’s Survivor leadership and advocacy program. She actively speaks at local and national conferences and trainings, and meets with state and federal legislators, officials, academics and celebrities to advocate for increased protections for survivors.  In 2010, Ima received the CAST Seeds of Renewal award for her leadership, a recognition that was given to her by fellow survivors.  In 2012 she was recognized by President Barak Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative while he announcing a major U.S. government initiative to combat modern-day slavery in the United States and abroad. Ima joined CAST staff in 2012, and is currently leading the Survivor Leadership program and coordinating the National Survivor Network, an initiative launched in 2011 to provide survivors with a platform for advocacy and peer to peer mentorship and support.

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