I recently interview Rachel Dodell, founder and president of Chaparral’s newest club, Half the Sky.
What is Half the Sky?
The Half the Sky Movement is an organization inspired by two New York Times journalists, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. After they wrote the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the organization was created. At Chaparral, the Half the Sky club promotes awareness of and solutions to global gender equality issues.
Why did you start the club?
Over the last year, I have become increasingly interested in women’s rights issues. I discovered the novel, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, along with the Half the Sky Movement and I saw an opportunity to not only learn more about women’s rights and gender equality, but also to make an impact.
What is the goal of Half the Sky?
Half the Sky seeks to educate Chaparral’s community about global gender equality issues, which affect not only people abroad or in the United States, but also people in Arizona. We also want to allow for Chaparral’s community to be part of the solution to global gender equality by participating in discussions, events, and fundraisers.
What future plans do you have for the club?
The club recently started, so we have been planning our first few events. At the end of November, we are planning a Who Needs Feminism? photo campaign, which will hopefully begin positive discussions about what it means to need feminism in today’s world. In December, we will be partnering with the Amnesty International club to spotlight the Half the Sky film and education issues, in honor of Malala Yousufzai. Other events we have planned include petitions, documentary screenings, and a Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide book club. We always welcome new ideas and members!
How can you get men to be more open to feminism?
First, I believe that there are both men and women that need to be more open to feminism. Both men and women need to understand that feminism is not a competition between genders, but a movement that is about bringing genders together and empowering women. Once people begin to realize that feminism is about removing stereotypes, empowering females, and seeking equality, I anticipate that they will be more open to the concept. I believe that opening a discussion with people is a really important factor in allowing for feminism to be widely accepted, which is why I really admire the work of Who Needs Feminism? at Duke University, which seeks to decrease misconceptions about feminism through a massive photo campaign.
What is one way that anyone can help end gender discrimination?
I think that a person can help end gender discrimination by being cognizant of their word choice. For instance, “Man up!” and “Get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!” are both phrases that perpetuate the problem. By not utilizing these or similar phrases, a person can instantly help mitigate gender biases.
For a larger impact, join a club, such as Half the Sky, or an organization which supports ending gender discrimination. There are many issues (education, economic empowerment, health policy) which relate to the problem of gender bias, and choosing one or multiple causes to support is a simple way to become involved with ending gender discrimination.