Carol Davis, associate professor of theater at Franklin & Marshall College, has been selected as a winner in the Half the Sky contest sponsored by The New York Times and columnist Nicholas Kristof. She was one of three winners out of more than 700 entries in the contest, which sought personal stories from readers about global poverty with a focus on women in the developing world.
The professor's winning entry discussed her role in creating the Nepal Health Project, an initiative launched in 1996 to educate people about personal health through street theatre.
"I have great respect for Nicholas Kristof, his journalism and his efforts to raise awareness about injustices and highlight action aimed at alleviating them," says Davis. "I appreciate the recognition of our work in Nepal, because we hope we're helping, and it's never easy to bring about real change."
Davis will receive a signed copy of Half the Sky, written by Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn to lay out an agenda for three major abuses affecting women around the world: sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence and maternal mortality. She notes that the contest has helped to raise awareness of these issues. "It gathered into one place hundreds of incredible stories from around the world," she says. "It's gratifying to read about so much compassionate work being done to lessen suffering, and especially to help underserved women and children."
In her entry, Davis details how she set up the project in Nepal, which focuses on personal health and hygiene, education and maternal mortality. She discusses one scene from a performance about a young woman who dies in childbirth because of malnourishment.
"The actors implore audience members to make sure pregnant women get enough to eat so that they can live through childbirth and deliver a healthy baby who can better survive childhood diseases," Davis writes. "The audience isn't laughing at this point. In fact, I remember a hillside of red saris, and tears being wiped away at this moment in the rough magic of our theatre."