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'Half the Sky' panel on global women's issues screens PBS special

September 18, 2012

Oppression of women and girls through sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence and maternal mortality is the catalyst for screening a new PBS series and hosting a panel discussion at Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation at noon, Sept. 26.

Eight, Arizona PBS will air the four-hour documentary, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide," on two nights, at 8 p.m., Oct. 1 and 2.

The PBS primetime special brings 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 travel 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 is very 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 and present a compelling model for social transformation.”

ASU invites the public to its free "Half the Sky" event Sept. 26 featuring a panel of university faculty, international doctoral students and a clinical research affiliate – all of them experts in these areas. Following the 40-minute screening, the panelists will talk about issues raised by the film and invite audience members to join the discussion. The 90-minute event will take place in West Hall, Room 135, on ASU’s Tempe campus. Parking and valet service are available in the 10th Street visitors’ parking lot. To view a map, visit:

Panelists for the "Half the Sky" event are:

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.

In the PBS special, some of Hollywood's top talents also traveled with Nicholas Kristof to Somaliland, Kenya, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sierra Leone to meet women on the front lines of the campaign to secure human rights for women and girls worldwide. Celebrity activists appearing in the film are America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde.