women standing together

"Half the Sky" Team Brings New Stories and Series to PBS

From the team that brought us the ground-breaking Half the Sky, a new three-part television series, A Path Appears, is set to premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens on Monday, January 26th at 10pm/9pm Central. This new series will tackle difficult issues confronting women and girls, including human trafficking and domestic violence.

As members of the Women and Girls Lead coalition, Women for Women International (WfWI) was invited to an early premiere of A Path Appears at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C. The event also featured a lively discussion that included the filmmaker, Maro Chermayeff, WfWI supporter and actress Ashley Judd, and co-author Sheryl WuDunn.

Two key issues were raised during the discussion: awareness and education are needed to ensure bystanders recognize the signs of trafficking, and holistic programs are effective and powerful investments that support women and girls to find a new path to rebuild their lives.

The discussion touched on the need for greater action and attention to these issues that affect women and girls. Several applauded Ashley Judd’s call for greater political support for legislation that confronts violence against women while also acknowledging the importance of tackling the negative perceptions and assumptions about women. Magdalene Program graduate Shana Goodwin made this appeal to all in attendance: regardless of how she looks, remember “no 13-year-old grows up wanting to be a prostitute.” Goodwin and WuDunn both spoke of the conditions of trauma, isolation and abuse that contribute to trafficking around the globe.  

However, the series begins in the United States. In the series, Ashley Judd and Nicholas Kristof are guided through the streets of Nashville, not far from Judd’s own home. They are led by an inspiring woman, Shana Goodwin, who was first sold to a pimp by her mother at the age of 12, but found a new life after enrolling in the Magdalene Program, a holistic residential program for women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction that also operates a social enterprise. From Tennessee, Kristof heads to Boston, where he joins actress Blake Lively to learn about an anti-trafficking organization, and they assist a mother who fears her missing daughter has fallen prey to a trafficker. The episode ends in Chicago, where Kristof and actress Malin Akerman go behind the scenes of sting operations cracking down on buyers of sex.

Women for Women International’s former CEO Jennifer L. Windsor will join Nicholas Kristof and other experts for an online discussion to raise awareness and share information about the important work of holistic programs in supporting women as they rebuild their lives. This event will be sponsored by the Women and Girls Lead coalition in collaboration with A Path Appears and public media partners Nashville Public Television, WGBH Boston, and WTTW Chicago Public Media. 

Photo credit on WfWI Blog homepage: Joyce Boghosian