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Pulitzer Prize-winner highlights women’s issues

POSTED AT 10:21 PM ON Mar. 8, 2010  (UPDATED AT 10:21 PM ON Mar. 8, 2010)

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Sheryl WuDunn spoke to students, faculty and community members Monday about the travesties women around the world are facing, such as gendercide and sex slavery, and ways to solve these crises.

WuDunn was introduced by the Dean of the Office of Women’s Affairs, Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh, who said WuDunn was “an empowering world-changer.” WuDunn is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, an author and has worked for The New York Times as a journalist and an executive.

WuDunn’s latest book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” was co-authored by her husband, Nicholas D. Kristof, also a columnist for The New York Times. The book has two major themes, the challenges women are facing and the best ways to solve those challenges, WuDunn said.

One of the main issues women around the world face is sex trafficking.

“There are currently between 60,000 and 100,000 women and girls missing,” WuDunn said.

A 13-year-old girl was kidnapped and sold to a brothel, WuDunn said citing one example of sex trafficking. This young girl’s mother left her home in search of her daughter, only to be told that she could not have her back unless she could match the price the brothel paid for her. After an emotional reunion, her mother left the brothel to return home empty-handed, WuDunn said.

She also told the story of a sixth grader in rural China who had to drop out of school to go to work until a private donation was made to her school from a reader of The New York Times who responded to an article written by WuDunn.

WuDunn used many of these examples of people she met and talked to as a way to show that individuals can make a difference in one life that will continue to give back to their community.

“These are issues we’re distant from,” freshman Rachel Monnier said. “Seeing pictures of these girls really affected me. Those girls were my sister’s age.”

Solutions were also offered by WuDunn in the lecture and in her book such as dismantling brothels and offering basic health care to women.

Mathias said the solutions were very comprehensible, which made them easier for more people to understand.

“I liked how she framed the solutions she offered and focused on specific women,” senior Rachel Mathias said.

 

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