Sheryl WuDunn asserts that the greatest unexploited resource in the modern world isn’t oil or gold or wind. It’s women.
While there is no simple economic formula for overcoming global poverty, growing evidence shows one of the simplest and most effective ways is to educate girls, empower them with knowledge and the ability to make their own decisions, and then help them develop financial independence, she says. That way, they are integrated into their local economy, and potentially, the world economy.
WuDunn, a bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner, will share stories that serve as reminders of a fundamental truth about gender injustices around the world: Girls aren’t just the problem or the victim, they’re also the solution – and their ingenuity and courage is beginning to spread with many helping hands from the West. There is a growing realization that when you educate a girl, you educate a village. And there are a growing number of ways to tap into this increasingly globalized network of empowering women around the world.
WuDunn will deliver her speech, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., in the final lecture in the 2015-16 E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues. This year, the forum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has delved into the origins of activists and the characteristics of effective social and political movements, narrated with candor by men and women who have inspired generations.
Marcee Metzger, executive director of Lincoln-based Voices of Hope, will hold a pre-talk at 6:30 p.m. in the Lied’s Steinhart Room.
The first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer, WuDunn has journeyed through banking to journalism and book writing. Her latest book, “A Path Appears,” is about spreading opportunity and making a difference in the world. Her previous book, the best-selling “Half the Sky,” co-written with her husband, Nicholas Kristof, had an immense impact on exposing the plight of oppressed people around the globe, sparking activism and a new sense of awareness.
Thanks to the book’s popularity and global impact, it soon grew into a multi-platform digital media effort that now includes a documentary series on PBS, mobile games and a game on Facebook.
“Women’s rights are so important for Nebraskans to learn about because women continue to encounter discrimination, struggle to make ends meet and are faced with violence at home and abroad,” said Alice Kang, assistant professor of political science and ethnic studies at UNL. “Sheryl WuDunn is a wonderful fit for this year’s theme of activism. She has interviewed women activists around the world and will bring their stories to light during her talk.”
Jan Deeds, director of the UNL Women’s Center, said: “WuDunn brings her skills and experiences as a business executive and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter to not only focus global attention on the challenges faced by women and girls, but to educate and empower everyone to address those challenges. By telling the stories of real women, she helps us understand the universality of their experiences and offers concrete steps that people in Nebraska and around the world can take to be part of the solution.”
A former vice president at Goldman Sachs, WuDunn possesses an adept understanding of macro- and microeconomic trends. Selected as one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World,” she has co-taught on China as part of a global affairs course at Yale University. She frequently discusses economics on major TV and radio programs, including Bloomberg TV, Fox Business News and National Public Radio.
E.N. Thompson Forum lectures are streamed here and are available live on Lincoln Time Warner Cable digital channel 80, channel 71.16 without a cable box, UNL campus channel 4 and KRNU radio 90.3 FM. All lectures are interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing.
WuDunn’s talk is co-sponsored by the UNL Women’s Center, Center for Civic Engagement, UNL Study of the U.S. Institute on Civic Engagement, and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is a cooperative project of the Cooper Foundation, the Lied Center and UNL. It was established in 1988 with the purpose of bringing a diversity of viewpoints on international and public policy issues to the university and people of Nebraska to promote understanding and encourage debate.