by Ardenis Perez.
On Thursday March 29, two-time Pulitzer winner and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof visited CCNY to deliver The Samuel Rudin Distinguished Visiting Scholar Lecture. Standing before a large crowd in the Great Hall of Shepard Hall, Kristof spoke about his travels and his most recent book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
The Samuel Rudin Distinguished Visiting Scholar Lecture began in 1996 and focuses on providing members of the CCNY community an opportunity to meet scholars, business leaders, and government officials and to enrich their educational experience. Previous lecturers include former Governor Mario Cuomo and Michio Kaku.
Nicholas Kristof, along with his wife Sheryl WuDunn, wrote Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and it immediately hit the New York Times bestseller list. The book brings highlights women’s struggles around the world, including sex trafficking and slavery, maternal mortality, and most importantly the right to an education.
Kristof explained that these issues are close to his heart. “Sheryl and I wrote this book not just to inform but really in hopes of galvanizing people to get engaged in these issues or another issue that really speaks to them,” said Kristof.
Educating girls and women is Kristof’s main goal. “Nobody should be forced to drop out of school because of their gender,” said Kristof. “In the 19th century the central moral challenge of the world was slavery. In the 20th century it was totalitarianism and in this century the central moral challenge in the world is the oppression of women and girls around the world,” he argued.
After discussing a story of a young Ugandan girl who was able to come to the U.S. to go to school, Kristof told the audience, “One of the skeptical questions that people may have is why should I care? If you see a girl who desperately wants to go to school and doesn’t have the money, you don’t ask that question.”
Stephanie, a CCNY student, who attended the lecture, was inspired by Kristof’s passion. “If I can get an education why can’t they all get one too?” noted the English major who decided to buy Kristof’s book. “I’m interested in reading more about these issues and what he has to say about them.”
Before leaving the stage Kristof left the audience with some kind words about CCNY students, “This group has such incredible international knowledge and ties that you have the capacity to have an impact beyond most groups of Americans,” he said.
Afterwards Kristof took the time to talk to students and autograph their books. For more information about Kristof and his work visit the Half the Sky movement website.