Half the Sky transmedia project update 10/2011

Sheryl WuDunn in Zimbabwe

In 2009, the bestselling book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky, sparked a global movement to address what they dubbed “the central moral challenge of our time” – ending the oppression of women and girls world-wide. It also inspired an ambitious multi-million dollar transmedia project with its beginnings now coming to light. From a prime-time TV series, a Facebook game, low-end mobiles games, websites, educational videos, and more, Half the Sky is poised to deliver extensive high-quality content, across many platforms, to raise awareness and turn engagement into real-world action.

These individual projects will work independently and in tandem, with the overall message being clear: fighting for basic gender equality is not just a woman’s issue, it is an economic, political and moral imperative –  arguably the greatest of our age. As each element comes together, we wanted to share an update covering the full scope of the Half The Sky project.


From May to November of 2011, the Half the Sky team will be traveling to nine countries shooting content for the upcoming PBS series. Airing in 2012, the 2-night television event will highlight multiple women, many of them leaders in their communities. Filming has gone smoothly with Half the Sky’s partners on the ground including: Apne Aap, CARE, CEDPA (The Center for Development and Population Activities), Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, International Justice Mission, International Women’s Health Coalition, and SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association).

During filming, Half the Sky co-author Nicholas Kristof traveled alongside famous actresses like Diane Lane, America Ferrera, Olivia Wilde, and Eva Mendes to help add more visibility to the project. These journeys presented the tireless efforts of his highlighted subjects, from a woman fighting to reduce the maternal mortality rates in Somaliland, to a crusader seeking to end child prostitution in Kolkata, and to an outreach visionary in Kenya. Sometimes frightening, uplifting, and life changing, the Half the Sky PBS special will help underscore the importance of this movement with real-world stories taking place in some of the most challenging places for women on Earth.

Filming is also taking place for a series of conversations in the US, Pakistan, and Afghanistan featuring Half the Sky co-author, Sheryl WuDunn. Sheryl will speak with some of the most effective change-makers in this movement from such organizations as GEMS, the Afghan Institute for Learning, and the Kashf Foundation. Each of these segments will be interwoven with footage of their powerful efforts and will focus on how their work can be replicated. Wrapping up each episode of the PBS special will be special interviews with some of the most knowledgeable advocates for women and girls, including: Hillary Clinton, Michelle Bachelet, and former US President Jimmy Carter. These luminaries will share their experience, provide context for this global movement, and highlight their values as models to affect change.


Leading up to the launch for the PBS series in 2012, Half the Sky is taking on two online properties to build context and anticipation for the premiere broadcast. The original Half the Sky Movement website will be revamped to reflect the current campaign initiatives. Appearing under the banner of the Emmy-winning PBS Series, Independent Lens, a new Half the Sky site will launch with the help of ITVS. The new sites will track project’s updates and give visitors behind the scenes content leading up to the first Half the Sky PBS broadcast.


Half-the-Sky-Sheryl-WuDunn02Sheryl in Zimbabwe

To engage new audiences around the world, Games for Change is executive producing two game projects on some of the most popular gaming platforms.

For audiences in India and West Africa, mainly women and girls who are most affected by the issues, Games for Change is working with Mudlark from the UK and ZMQ in India to create four unique games for JAVA based mobile devices. Between Mudlark’s creative contribution and ZMQ’s proven distribution network, we hope to reach millions of low-end devices in India, Kenya and Tanzania during 2012. In addition, each of these exciting games were made possible by key partnerships with on the ground NGOs, to more effectively create the proper context and to better target the communities they serve.

For global audiences, we are working with multiple partners to create a powerful social game on Facebook. This game will integrate accessible game mechanics that millions of players engage with everyday in order to reach “beyond the converted” – people who may not necessarily engage with the book, the New York Times, or PBS. The Half the Sky game will add its own twist by tying gameplay to the many stories and themes of the book while leveraging the established NGO network of Half the Sky for direct action (such as volunteering time or donating money).

To get a more in-depth look at the games for the Half the Sky project, stay connected for an upcoming part 2 of this post!


The Half the Sky movement is a global campaign with multiple points of entry. From printed material, TV, games, and more, this project aims to explore this movement not with data but with compelling storytelling told through different mediums. Whether you’re placing a bookmark in your copy of Half the Sky or bookmarking the website, everyone will have an opportunity to learn and more importantly, be able to affect change with millions of others, which is sometimes only one click away…

To learn more about the Half the Sky movement, visit the website, or read Nick Kristof’s coverage.


5 Responses to Half the Sky transmedia project update 10/2011

  1. Sounds very interesting, I would love to help. There’s an orphanage in Kenya that would really benefit from exposure, I’m happy to make the connection if you think it could be appropriated.

  2. Sheryl WuDunn says:


    Thanks for thinking about the Kenya orphanage. We hope you and your friends feel empowered to take it forward!

    Good luck!

  3. Helen T Gregory says:

    The group I formed–Women 4 Women Ohio, inspired by Half the Sky–enjoyed hearing you both speak in Akron recently. Thanks for continuing to inspire those of us who want to help. Our small project is currently focused on scholarships for Cambodian girls, but there is so much more to be done. I am looking forward to watching the PBS series, and will spread the word.

  4. Pingback: Half the Sky transmedia project update 10/2011 | Games for Change | Richard Kastelein - Creative Technology and building the bridge

  5. Pingback: Half the Sky « Transmedia Projects

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