“Women Hold Up Half the Sky” is the present exhibition at Skirball Cultural Center that explores the current situation of woman’s rights and health in a global scale of inequality that inspires change and movement. The critically acclaimed book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” was written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn that inspires this progressive exhibition. You can listen to the survivors who have changed their lives with education, finances and independence while glancing at the vibrant imagery that captures this transformation.
As you travel through the gallery, you will notice many beautiful imagery and graphics done by Olson Visual. One in particular read, “Overcoming Violence: Violence and discrimination against women cross all national, religious, ethnic, and cultural barriers. Changing entrenched practices and beliefs will not be easy, but it is not without precedent”. These strong words that set the tonality of the rest of the show as you experience the emotional tales of woman found all over the world.
Moving through the space of the exhibition you will find a fabric banner that wraps around creating a circular nook where you notice the words, “slavery is still happening”. Here you can sit in an intimate setting and hear the stories of woman’s freedom from enslavement. On the outside of this same structure you will find the words “Slavery” and “Happening”.
Later on in the exhibit, you hear the tragic tales of young girls in the corrupt world of sex trafficking and how the opportunities of education lead them to independence. Another example of a survivor of violence is Saima Muhammad, a battered woman who went against all odds and opened her own embroidery store that lead to her liberation. Another segment was titled “I’m Invisible: Surviving Slavery in 21st-Century Los Angeles,” where you can listen to the words of a woman who was held in captivity right here in Los Angeles. “About one third of all women face violence in their home,” read one of the Olson Visual graphics. In retrospect, these acts of violence are not only issues of under developed countries but also a worldwide epidemic.
The title for one of the specific segments read “Maternal Health” which describes the need for more hospitals in particular geographical areas. For instance, Dr. Cecilia Achadu Otim was the only female heart surgeon in Uganda. She died after a routine caesarean surgery and giving birth to a healthy baby boy. No one was available to help her as she took her last breath holding the hand of her mother. In Somalia, Edna Adan Ismail, who at one time was the Lady, recently financed a maternity hospital in a war-stricken, impoverished area that has now impacted the health of many women.
This exhibition is not only educational and thought provoking but it touches the human heart no matter what gender or age you are and inspire you to connect with woman all over the world. This emotionally charged show makes you aware of the innocence that is lost and the unjust done to young women but most importantly it tells you the story of how people are creating a powerful change and can “hold up half the sky.” It is the courage in these stories that celebrates life and inspires hope for a future change.
You can see “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” exhibition through October 27, 2011 to May 20, 2012.