The International Women's Day Issue

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Dear PASTE readers,

It means a great deal to us—and to women, girls and communities everywhere—that you are willing to engage in our effort to create a fairer, freer, safer world. We believe that the oppression of women is the greatest moral challenge of our time.

Several years ago, when we were traveling and researching our book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity, we had no idea our stories and reporting would become such a key part of a larger movement to fight the injustices that half the world’s population faces. The women we met on our journey—from the brave Somaly Mam in Cambodia to Edna Adan in Somaliland to Urmi Basu in India—have inspired us to keep moving forward. Their courage may be extraordinary, yet their struggles are all too common.

When the book was first released in 2009, gender equality and the economic benefits of empowering women and girls had already found champions—among them leaders such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, and Melinda Gates. Yet other voices in popular culture, including musicians and actresses such as Olivia Wilde, America Ferrera and Amy Brenneman, who contributed to this issue of PASTE, have been crucial to the success of the movement, too. Many of the organizations we highlighted in the book and later in the PBS broadcast—including those fighting sex trafficking and poverty, working to improve maternal health, and providing access to education and economic opportunity—also joined us along the way, and we are proud that Half the Sky Movement continues to highlight the work of dozens of nonprofits who are making a difference in the lives of women around the world.

Having a voice on a cutting-edge platform like PASTE.COM is a privilege that proves audiences everywhere are compelled to join the movement. People ask us all the time, “How can I help?” We are journalists, so our way of helping is writing and sharing what we learn about the world through print. What will be your way? Are you a great organizer? Fundraiser? Speaker? Teacher? Artist? Entrepreneur? There are so many ways to create lasting and positive change in every community. It is our sincere hope that you will find ways to make a significant impact that is rewarding both to you and to those we seek to help. We’ve developed websites, a Facebook game, videos and other educational tools to not only raise awareness of women’s issues, but also to provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women. Change is possible, and you can be part of the solution.

We hope this issue instills in each reader a desire to learn more about challenges and opportunities facing women and girls worldwide. We look forward to taking on this challenge alongside you. Thank you!

Sincerely Yours,

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

The track associated with this story is from Abigail Washburn, who lent her music to the Half the Sky movement.

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