'Half The Sky' Author, Women's Rights Activist Sheryl WuDunn to Speak at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Sheryl WuDunn, author of the highly regarded book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize, will give a free public presentation at Ithaca College on Thursday, Nov. 1. Part of the Peggy R. Williams Difficult Dialogues Symposium, her talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Ford Hall, with a book signing and reception to follow.

A business executive and entrepreneur as well as journalist and best-selling author, WuDunn has lectured to a wide range of American and global audiences on economic, political and social topics related to women in the developing world, the global economy, China and emerging markets. Currently the senior managing director at Mid-Market Securities, a boutique investment banking firm, she raises capital for entrepreneurs in media technology, healthcare and social enterprise.

WuDunn coauthored “Half the Sky” with her husband, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. The book focuses on the challenges facing women and girls in developing countries, including such difficult issues as maternal mortality, forced prostitution and sex trafficking.

The book has inspired a full-fledged movement that seeks to put an end to the oppression of women and girls worldwide through a transmedia project that uses video, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools both to raise awareness of women’s issues and to provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women.

Sophomore documentary studies major Kaley Belval, who serves as the campus ambassador for the Half the Sky Movement,will have the opportunity to meet with WuDunn during her visit.

A third generation Chinese American, WuDunn graduated with a B.A. in European History from Cornell — where she now serves as a member of the Board of Trustees — and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and M.P.A. from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

As a correspondent in the Beijing bureau of the New York Times, she covered the Tiananmen Square democracy movement of 1989 along with Kristof, for which the pair were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. The two have also coauthored the best-selling books “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” and “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.”

In addition to earning a George Polk Award and Overseas Press Club Award for her reporting, WuDunn has been honored with the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year Award and Harriet Beecher Stowe Prize, and in 2011 she was listed by Newsweek magazine as one of the 150 “women who shake the world.” She and Kristof received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award.

In conjunction with WuDunn's talk, a free screening of the PBS documentary based on "Half the Sky" will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 7-9 p.m. (Part 1), and Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-8 p.m. (Part 2), in Textor 102.

The Difficult Dialogues Symposium is named in honor of Ithaca College President Emerita Peggy R. Williams, who has been an advocate for dialogue about complex and controversial issues of the time and a staunch defender of academic freedom and active, open inquiry.

For more information on the symposium contact Margaret Arnold, special assistant to the provost, at marnold@ithaca.edu.

Sheryl WuDunn