WHEN the members of a West Vancouver book club finished reading Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide, they felt compelled to take action.
The 2009 national bestseller is described as a "passionate call to arms against the oppression of women around the globe," and has helped inspire an international movement towards change - the dissemination of its message aided by a recent PBS documentary series.
Randene Hardy is a member of the West Vancouver book club that is leading the Half the Sky charge in Canada, interested in fostering awareness, advocacy and action related to abuses against women and girls.
"We wanted to support the groups that are already doing great work with women," she says.
Last year, Hardy and her peers organized the inaugural Half the Sky Day and brought together a host of organizations working to better the lives of women and girls, both locally and internationally, providing an opportunity for community members to connect with them and offer support, either financially or by joining their efforts.
"It was an amazing event," she says.
The compassion expressed by last year's attendees blew the exhibitors away.
"The people who came were genuinely interested, concerned and wanted to help in some way and support them in some way. All the NGOs, they all said it unanimously, that they had never been to an event that was so wonderfully supported by the community and they had such opportunity to share their stories and to share their organization with so many people," says Hardy.
The women are presenting the 2013 Half the Sky Day, once again at Park Royal Shopping Centre's south mall, Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This year's event will showcase 17 local and international organizations and charities, some of which were highlighted in Half the Sky, and others that have been sourced based on their noteworthy contributions.
"There are so many people in the Lower Mainland that are working to help marginalized girls and women. We were surprised there were this many," says Hardy.
Groups featured include Heal Canada, Linwood House, Create Change, World Vision Canada, Ratanak International and the North Shore Crisis Services Society.
Among the new NGOs featured this year is the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, a resource for community-based services that support survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, child abuse and criminal harassment.
"They work very much with domestic violence. . . and they have a partnership with the B.C. Lions," says Hardy.
As part of its Be More Than A Bystander campaign aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about the impact of men's violence against women, EVA B.C. will have a couple of B.C. Lions players in attendance at the Park Royal event between noon and 2 p.m.
Another group coming on board this year is the Joy Smith Foundation, which is working to end human trafficking.
Founder Joy Smith, a Manitoba MP, will be on hand. "She is the woman largely in Canada who's thought of as the foremost authority on human trafficking in Canada. She personally has worked in Parliament to try and change the laws and protect girls and women," says Hardy.
Hardy is pleased with the support her group has received from the husband and wife authors of Half the Sky, having been given their blessing to join their cause and use the book's name.
"In fact, Nicholas Kristof is a New York Times columnist and he did write about us in the New York Times, (he) mentioned us in his column," she says.
The event is family-friendly with Kenton Studios offering onsite family photo shoots and prints for Mother's Day, and there will be a craft table for the younger set, again to make gifts for moms.
For more information on the local event, visit halfthesky. ca. For more information on the international movement, visit halftheskymovement. org.
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