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ASUtv airs panel discussion on 'Half the Sky' documentary

October 08, 2012

This week ASUtv will present a discussion panel on the popular PBS documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide." 

The panel was hosted on Sept. 26 by ASU’s School of Social Transformation, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with Eight, Arizona PBS, and convened following a special screening of a 40-minute excerpt from “Half the Sky.”  

Viewers will have opportunities to see the panel discussion during a number of ASUtv lecture time slots on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Review the ASUtv Schedule to find a convenient viewing time.)

Oppression of women and girls through sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality were the topics focused on in the screened excerpt discussed at ASU. The panel featured ASU faculty, international doctoral students and a clinical research affiliate – all of them experts in these areas. Following the 40-minute screening, the panelists talked about issues raised by the film and invited audience members to join the discussion.

Panelists for ASU’s “Half the Sky” event were:

Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, a clinical research affiliate with ASU’s Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) and an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix. At MIHS, she also serves as director of the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic.

Sarah Suhail, doctoral candidate in gender studies, School of Social Transformation, is a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan with research interests in gender identity. She also has a law degree and experience advocating for transgender people in her home country.

Heather Switzer, assistant professor, School of Social Transformation, teaches classes on women and gender, girlhood and adolescence, and has published and presented on the schooling imperative and gender categories of Kenyan Maasai girls.

Yamrot Girma Teshome, doctoral candidate in gender studies, School of Social Transformation, is from Ethiopia with research interests in girls’ education and empowerment, masculinities and the effect of men’s socialization on reproductive health and power.

Charlie Zhang, doctoral candidate in gender studies, School of Social Transformation, is from China with research interests in gender and race, intersectionality, transnational feminism, masculinities and culture as a site of resistance and social justice.

Eight, Arizona PBS aired the four-hour documentary, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,“ on two nights, Oct. 1 and 2.

The PBS primetime special brought to life stories and issues raised by New York Times reporters and Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in their best-selling book, “Half the Sky.” PBS viewers traveled with Kristof on an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet extraordinary women confronting oppression with real and meaningful solutions through health care, education and economic empowerment for women and girls.

“The Women and Gender Studies Program was excited to partner with Eight in presenting a preview and panel discussion of the powerful PBS documentary, ‘Half the Sky,’” said ASU’s Georganne Scheiner Gillis, head of faculty and associate professor of Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation. “Both the film and the book on which it is based promote human rights for women and girls globally.

“The individual stories presented certainly pull at the heart in a visceral way, but as our panelists suggested in their discussion, Americans should also be interested in learning about the cultural, social and economic forces that create oppression,” she continued. “As Professor Heather Switzer noted in her remarks, ‘Social change is not just well-meaning people doing well-meaning things.’ Systemic structural changes are required to produce broad, long-term change.”

Maureen Roen,
School of Social Transformation
James Salisbury,
Judy Crawford,
Public Relations | Eight, Arizona PBS