Sheryl WuDunn: Empowering Women Comes Down to Economics

Half the Sky makes the moral and economic case for ending practices that exploit women in the developing world

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What on a bigger, national level should we be doing policy-wise?

You know that President Obama announced a global sex trafficking initiative? Frankly that's precisely the kind of thing that is needed. And certainly that's just an announcement right now, and so one has to see how the initiative is carried out. Average citizens can put pressure on him to make good on that, and to make sure it is carried out effectively and there really are results at the end of the line. That is exactly the kind of thing that is needed.

A lot of the things uncovered by the movie and the book are really sad. Are you optimistic about where things are heading?

There are so many people working in this area for change. I am not in the field working with an NGO, but there are lots of NGOs with people who really are dedicating their lives to this. It's amazing some of the solutions they come up with and the new developments in the solutions, so it is pretty amazing how much innovation there is in this area. So I'm extremely optimistic, more so than other people have ever been in the past on this issue because there really is much more interest in this topic. When it gets to the presidential level, that's just amazing. The outlook is very bright.

Half the Sky is a two-part series airing Monday and Tuesday, October 1 and 2, at 9 p.m. on PBS.

Tierney Sneed is associate editor of U.S. News Opinion. E-mail her at and follow her on Twitter.