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Rockford College talk looks at oppression of women

Wednesday, March 16, 2011  
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By Chris Green
RRSTAR.COM
Posted Mar 16, 2011 @ 12:06 AM
Last update Mar 16, 2011 @ 12:32 AM

ROCKFORD —
Sheryl WuDunn and her husband, Nicholas Kristof, were in Beijing, China, on June 4, 1989, when tanks of the People’s Liberation Army opened fire on the crowds at Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds to silence a pro-democracy movement.

Tuesday at Rockford College, WuDunn said an even greater but less publicized tragedy — the oppression of women — was and still is occurring in China and around the globe.

WuDunn and Kristof are New York Times best-selling authors of "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity.”

WuDunn, half of the Pulitzer Prize-winning duo, was the guest speaker Tuesday night at the college. The event was sponsored in part by the Rockford Register Star, Rockford Woman Magazine and rrstar.com.

Stories were shared of young girls and women living in undeveloped countries and overcoming Third World atrocities such as lack of education, violence, sex trafficking, maternal mortality and scarce employment opportunities.

WuDunn said empowering women with education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and the path to gender equality.

With the exception of microfinancing, investing in or making loans to the poor to help them rise from poverty through entrepreneurship, WuDunn didn’t specify how to get involved or what organizations to donate time or money to. Instead she encouraged the audience, particularly the students, to do their own research and to "contribute to a cause greater than yourself.”

Since the book was published in September 2009, it has caught on across the country, with many nonprofit organizations working toward their own Half the Sky initiative.

Sue Pisano, a member of the audience, said her book club read "Half the Sky” and hosted a Beads for Life party in November at the Just Goods Store. She said the book club members sold beads made by the women of Uganda and donated 100 percent of the profits, $2,500, back to the Uganda women.

Rockford College Trustee Jim Keeling and his wife, Pam, were co-sponsors of Tuesday’s event. They were instrumental in bringing WuDunn to Rockford to share her message of turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.

"This is what Rockford College is about and what Jane Addams (an 1881 Rockford College graduate) would have embraced,” he said. "We decided to accept the challenge of the book and find out how we could help women around the world.”

This story appeared at http://www.rrstar.com/news/x1777812079/Speaker-at-Rockford-church-addresses-oppression-of-women on March 16, 2011.

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