Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sheryl WuDunn, Beth Klein and Ending Sex Trafficking

The word "celebrity" has taken on a new meaning in my life ever since this summer. There really is no such thing as a celebrity, like Jason Russell from Invisible Children said. We are all just people, and we are all just trying to figure out life. With that said I still was honored to meet one of my hero's Sheryl WuDunn, and although there is no such thing as celebrities, people like Sheryl, and other successful activists get me so excited and overwhelmed and meeting them is too amazing!

Thursday night at Denver University, Women of Vision – a branch of World Vision – put on a night of hope by having speakers Sheryl WuDunn and Colorado Attorney Beth Klein come and speak about the battle against sex trafficking in the world. Currently there are more slaves today than during the late 18th century when the slave trade started. Not only that but slaves are also worth less today. A slave today is worth around $200, while a slave during the 18th century would have been worth $40,000 (calculating inflation). This literally means that our world today sees women as being of no worth. To add to this horror there are 60-100 million women missing in the world. BUT there's hope!!! "Women are not the problem, they are the solution", says WuDunn over and over again.

Here is the basic breakdown of what's going on and what needs to happen in order for the "Gendercide" to end. First of all many families sell their daughters into the sex trade because of their poverty. If instead the family would invest in her education she would bring them out of poverty. Statistics have shown that educated men usually leave to go get a job, whereas educated women will give back to their community and provide for their families, start small business and invest in those around them. 

Another major problem is high maternity mortality rates. A woman dies every sixty seconds in the world from child birth. Educating women is the greatest way of population control. Women who are getting an education will wait to have children and are willing to say "no" to their husbands when deciding on the number of children to have. Plus women who are having less children have a lower chance of dying in child birth. Furthermore with higher education women understand things about sterilization and delivering in a hospital, and more women will become mid-wives to help save lives.

Sheryl WuDunn is married to New York Times journalist Nicholas D. Kristof another idol of mine. 
WuDunn told multiple stories from her travels with her husband, which are also mentioned in their co-authored book "Half The Sky", which is being turned into a PBS documentary featuring America Ferrera and Diane Lane. 

Denver Attorney Beth Klein also came and spoke about the multiple brothel rings that have been taken down in Denver, and the dozens of sex slaves that have been rescued and are now in the process of rehabilitation. Klein also encouraged everyone to get involved with the new rehabilitation center that is being built in Denver within the next year. (If interested in using your talents to help rescued sex slaves in this new rehabilitation center, feel free to email Klein and tell her your interest).

The good news about all of this is that there is hope! Donating to a cause is always a great idea but even better is choosing a cause that means something to you and becoming a part of it. Working with the people there and helping whenever you can and sticking with it for years is what will make the difference. Saving the masses is not the goal, but changing a single life (maybe even yours) is what's important. So find a cause that means something to you and stick to it! (But remember the business of helping others is not an easy job, but is one of meaning and can permanently increase your happiness.)

 And here's MY most exciting moment of the night (I was SO nervous before meeting her!) I got a short time to interview Sheryl while she signed my book and during that time a documentary crew did some filming and got our talk on tape. (Let's just say I could be in a documentary in the future, I'll keep you updated though).

Needless to say, this was one of the most amazing nights.
 I'm continually reminded that this is the path that God has put me on. Traveling, loving, learning and showing others the truth –whether through art, speeches or writing. I can't wait to see what is coming next in my life. I'm looking more into journalism and photojournalism and seeing all the possibilities that the future could hold. And after learning about the high mortality rates in child birth I would love to learn more about delivering babies. Some of the stories that WuDunn told were about women who ended up working for maternity hospitals and becoming nurses even though they only had 2nd grade educations.

The world holds more for you than you could ever know!

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