In 2009, New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn published Half the Sky, a heartbreaking overview of the many horrific ways women are devalued and discriminated against in the world today. This fall their documentary by the same title aired on Public Broadcasting Service. Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, invited Kristof to share the stage with him in lieu of a sermon during weekend services earlier this year. For 40 minutes, Willow churchgoers sat rapt in astonishment as Kristof recounted stories of women from his book. When he told about a woman suffering with a fistula who had been shunned by her village and left to die alone outside the camp where she had to fend off hyenas and drag herself across the desert to find medical care, the congregation collectively gasped. He went on to describe the Cambodian brothel where he bought two prostitutes in an attempt to rescue them from a life of sex slavery. Few people made it through the interview with dry eyes.
I met with Kristof in between services to discuss sex-selective abortions, one of the basest forms of "gendercide"—a term used to describe the deliberate extermination of girls and women—and what the church's role should be in ending this particular form of oppression.
How do you wake up Americans to the problem of gendercide when it's something that happens mostly in other countries?
It's hard to get people to care about 100 million missing females. I think it's a little easier to get them to care about one particular girl who is dying because her parents don't think it's important to feed a daughter or get healthcare to her. Once that pathway is cleared to care ...