“Half the Sky” Must see TV on PBS tonight/tomorrow

“Half the Sky”

9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central Oct. 1 and Oct. 2

Almost every review I have read of the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, 2009, Knopf) begins by saying that “a Chinese proverb says that women hold up half the sky,” and I can see no better opening to a review of this Independent Lens PBS documentary that is at once compelling, overwhelming, hopeful and life-changing.

Husband-and-wife team Kristof, a New York Times columnist, and WuDunn, formerly of The New York Times, are now filmmakers who have made a sight and sound companion to their book. The stories of women in the film who suffer are harrowing and heroic, deeply sad and disturbing; the women who embody the changes in education, health and economic development are nothing short of courageous.

Several American celebrities accompany the filmmakers on their journeys: America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union, Olivia Wilde, George Clooney and other public figures. The authors talk about how they got involved in the plight of women, and the actresses reveal their own growth in awareness of the mistreatment of women:

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