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Empowering women and girls can solve global poverty, author says

March 1st, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

Story and photo by Jimena Herrero

LOGAN — Sheryl WuDunn, the award-winning co-author of Half the Sky, took the stage at the Eccles Conference Center auditorium Tuesday night. Her message was simple yet powerful: “Women and girls aren’t the problem. They are the solution.”

WuDunn, who is also a successful business executive and lecturer, was the first Asian-American journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize. She has won many other awards for her written works. Her USU lecture, on gender oppression and an individual’s responsibility to promote social justice, was sponsored by the Utah State University Center for Women and Gender and focused on the struggles and success stories of women around the world.

“The central moral challenge of the 19th century was slavery,” WuDunn said. “In the 20th century it was totalitarianism. In this century it is the oppression of women and girls around the world.”

Much like in Half the Sky, WuDunn utilized stories of women from around the world to illustrate the social issues that affect women and their possible solutions.

“If you look at the developing world, what it takes to get ahead in school and in life has nothing to do with your IQ,” WuDunn said. “It has to do with your chromosomes.”

WuDunn hopes that sharing these success stories will not only educate people, but create a better understanding of women’s issues. “It’s not about throwing money at organizations or at the issues. It’s about understanding the cultures and finding the right formula to fix it.”

“We may not see it in our cozy little part of the world, but these are very serious issues,” Ann Austin, director of the Center for Women and Gender, said. “I hope the audience got a sense of how the oppression of women is a global problem.”

USU student Emily Snyder said, “I was intrigued by the stories and the inspiration that comes from women that aren’t given a lot in life, but manage to succeed anyway,”

WuDunn ended the lecture on a powerful note.

“What’s in it for you? Why should you care?” she asked. “We live in a place where we take security for granted. But with our great fortune, comes great responsibility.

“There are very few things in life that help you elevate your state of happiness, once all of your material needs are met,” WuDunn said. “One is contributing to a cause larger than yourself.

“This is our cause. Join the movement.”


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