Pulitzer Prize winner: Education key to helping women worldwide

An enthusiastic crowd welcomed best-selling author Sheryl WuDunn to the Lied Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday. Many jumped up from their seats when the Pulitzer Prize winner took the stage to discuss global women’s rights.

But when WuDunn reached the microphone, the auditorium instantly became quiet.

She passionately explained how hatred and violence toward women continues.

“How can we fix this?” she asked. She paused briefly before answering: “Education. Women need education and to be in the work force.”

WuDunn’s speech —  “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” — was the final lecture in the 2015-16 E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

“Women are not the problem,” she told the audience. “They are the solution.”

WuDunn spoke of a 13-year-old girl whose mother introduced her into the sex trafficking business and shot her up with heroin.  The girl grew up mistrusting people; she even bore a tattoo that read, “Trust No One.”

“Her life was basically like fighting a war,” WuDunn said. “She had to find a purpose.”

And she did. After accepting her upbringing, she decided to change her life. She now works with police officers to find women in the sex trafficking business and get them help.

“She was a part of the solution,” WuDunn said.

After her speech, WuDunn took questions from the audience. She spoke about the importance of raising children to understand that women are not objects.

“They are individuals,” she said. “They are human beings.”

And she cautioned that the movement to combat oppression and create opportunities for women is important for everyone.

“This is not a woman’s thing,” WuDunn said. “Everyone needs to be included and know we’re in it together.”

Audience member Amanda Huckins, 28, said she came to hear WuDunn because she has witnessed inequality among men and women in Lincoln. She said she wants to be part of the solution.

“We joined the movement to empower women.”


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