Sheryl WuDunn is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, business executive and author. Her most recent book, “Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” discusses women’s health care in developing countries, among other issues. She co-authored the book with her husband, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. WuDunn was the featured speaker Tuesday night, Oct. 29, at the University of Rhode Island’s Honors Colloquium.
PBN: What is one of the most significant health care problems women face in developing countries?
WUDUNN: In “Half The Sky,” we have a section on maternal health care. Women are dying in childbirth.
PBN: Why is this happening?
WUDUNN: There’s no system to deliver health care in these countries. It’s very complicated and there are many causes. It could be from poverty or lack of political will. Sometimes it’s cultural reasons. There is no tradition of pre-natal care. A lot of these women live in poor, rural areas and they don’t have the money to take a cab to a clinic, let alone pay for the doctor’s visit. Every step of the way is an obstacle for them.
PBN: Do women in developing have more health problems, in general, than men?
WUDUNN: Absolutely. In India, for instance, studies show that girls under the age five are more likely than boys to die. It’s not the diseases that are killing them. It’s malnutrition. When there’s scarcity, the food goes to the males.
PBN: What are some of the other health and safety problems affecting women in the developing world?
WUDUNN: Sex trafficking, for one, but it’s not just a problem “out there.” It’s here, in the United States, too.
PBN: Why did you and your husband write “Half The Sky”?
WUDUNN: We kept seeing these problems as foreign correspondents. The idea was to spread the word and awareness.