Half the Sky: Heartbreak and Hope

In advance of the PBS Independent Lens airing of Half the Sky, I decided to read the book. I knew from several close friends who are far more engaged and immersed in women and children's global health and well being issues that I would be in for an impactful experience. I also knew after reading the first chapter that this was a book that would require me to practice a great deal of self-care if I was going to finish it. For anyone who has read Half the Sky, you know exactly what I mean. And if you haven't read the book please know that there are many "I can't read this anymore" moments where you have to put the book down, go for a long walk, take a deep breath, then return to continue. But you must continue. Because although these are stories that cause you heartbreak, they are also stories that fill you with hope. Hope that together we can create a world where this kind of soul-splitting pain and suffering can be eradicated and where all children are treated with value, respect, and worth, and nurtured and encouraged as all children should be.

I won't break down the documentary segment by segment, because it all is so very interconnected and needs to be watched as a whole, but I will share with you some of my thoughts that I experienced while viewing:

  • We must share our stories. Whether they be of the tremendous, mind shattering, suffering that so many girls of the world experience, and as uncomfortable as it may make us to hear that these kind of horrific abuses are perpetrated on the very youngest and most vulnerable, we must LISTEN to those stories. We must acknowledge that we live in a world where there are people who commit heinous crimes against women and children, and we must do everything we can to prevent those abuses from happening. 
  • We must share our stories. So often we remain silent about our own pain and heartache because we believe that if we don't talk about it, we can deny it ever happened. But that gives more power to the one who has abused us, whether physically, verbally, or emotionally. Our story helps us regain the power that was stolen from us. We are more than the abuse we suffer, and although it may define our lives and guide our actions at times, we cannot remain silent. 
  • We must share our stories. Because out of those stories of sorrow and heartache, are stories of hope. Of community. Of people who sacrifice so others may have a better tomorrow. These stories shine a light in the darkest of places and offer to those who have been placed in the shadows a way out. 
As I watched last night I thought of my youngest child, my daughter, lying asleep in her bed, her only worry was whether she would get to have a play date with a best friend this Friday because there is no school. I thought about how I would move heaven and earth to protect her from any pain, suffering, sorrow, or heartache and do everything in my power to make sure that all of her hopes can come to fruition. I thought of her older brothers and how I am trying to do my best to raise them to be respectful of women and to know that every woman they meet is someone's daughter or sister, and as they should never want harm to come to their sister, they need to make sure to navigate and behave in such a way that would cause no harm. 

Watching Half the Sky is as much about empowering girls and women in other countries as it is about making sure that we continue to empower each other here to help them.

I can't do everything there is to do that needs to be done, but I can do everything to support those that are doing what I cannot. I can share their stories. I can be there to listen. I can help them by lending my voice wherever it is needed. I can do this for my daughter, for my sons. I can do this because I hold up half the sky.