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'Half the Sky:' Series on exploited women looks to empower

'Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide' is airing as part of public TV's 'Independent Lens' series. The documentary is based on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's 2009 bestseller.

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"Half the Sky" series is based on Nicholas Kristof and wife Sheryl WuDunn's book, examining ways women are oppressed globally and how to empower them through education. Kristof reports during an HBO documentary, June 16, 2007.

Courtesy of Will Okun/HBO

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It wasn't a juicy script that brought together a half-dozen Hollywood stars, including Meg Ryan, America Ferrera and Olivia Wilde. It was the chance to tell the stories of women seeking, and finding, lives unbound by oppression.

"Half the Sky," a moving PBS documentary series aired Monday and Tuesday (it can be viewed online through Oct. 9), provides unflinching accounts of the worldwide exploitation and abuse that can ensnare women as well as girls. But it doesn't stop short of hopefulness.

The series details efforts to help females escape brutality and poverty through health care, education and economic advancement, sometimes fostered by those who themselves once suffered.

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