In late 2012, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) created a documentary about women living in developing countries called Half the Sky. This documentary examines the lives of many women in third world countries who have suffered through rape, prostitution, slavery, violent marriages, and other forms of oppression. By interviewing numerous women, Half the Sky is able to construct a common bond that promotes a sense of connectivity for all women and all humanity. Eva Mendes is one of the celebrities participating in this eye-opening project.
While the documentary takes the viewer to many different parts of the world, like Cambodia and Vietnam, Eva travels to Sierra Leone to talk to women about empowerment and to raise awareness of violence against females.
The film advocates women in leadership roles who advocate for women victims of rape and physical abuse. In one instance, a woman, who was abducted at the age of 13 and forced into prostitution, now provides shelter and counseling for girls who escaped from similar situations. Eva Mendes also had the opportunity to interview a particularly inspirational woman who had the courage to press charges against the men who raped her.
Half the Sky focuses on how women are fighting back against gender-based violence and paints a relatively optimistic future. Although in some societies female violence is still the norm, many women are attempting to create and implement the concept of women’s rights. It may be a long battle in some countries, but, as Eva Mendes notes, even small progress is worth celebrating.
It is easy for some documentaries to merely show story after story about women who have suffered from violence; Half the Sky is a different kind of documentary. It shows the viewer that even in the midst of discrimination and struggle, these women are able to overcome their past experiences and emerge ready and eager to help other women. These women refuse to be silent and submissive. That is something that every gender and nationality can relate to.
– Mary Penn
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