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“In the same way that slavery was a moral challenge for the 19th century and totalitarianism was a challenge for the 20th century, the challenge that women and girls face around the world is the moral challenge of our time,” she said.

At a news conference, Kristof responded to a question about whether America was imposing its beliefs on other countries.

“There are values that are oppressive to women that are embedded in a culture, sometimes in a religion, and I don’t think one can ignore that fact,” he said. “And it’s also true that sometimes one can go in and end up causing more harm than good in the process of trying to bring about change.”

“What we’ve tried to do is focus on organizations that are on the ground,” at the grass-roots level, and try to “amplify their voices,” he said.

“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” introduced by George Clooney and airing as part of public TV’s “Independent Lens” series, includes companion websites, social media campaigns supporting non-governmental organizations, and educational components.

The project, directed by Maro Chermayeff, is part of an initiative on female leadership from documentary producer Independent Television Service, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds ITVS.

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Online:

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky

http://www.halftheskymovement.org