This week on The I Files – inspired by the PBS broadcast of the “Half the Sky” documentary –  we’re featuring 10 stories of women around the world who are turning oppression into opportunity.

Based on the book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the two-part “Half the Sky” series examines critical women’s issues that are being confronted around the globe including poor health care, lack of education, sex trafficking and gender-based violence. The series’ title references China’s Chairman Mao Tse Tung’s famous slogan that “women hold up half the sky.” 

“Half the Sky” airs tonight and continues tomorrow on PBS’s Independent Lens. But we’ll be featuring our special themed playlist all week long with stories highlighting courageous individuals who are looking for solutions – often against great odds – to some of the most intractable problems facing women today.

Here are some highlights:

 
Mimi Chakarova’s documentary, “The Price of Sex,” follows the trail of the forgotten women who’ve been drawn into the shadowy and terrifying netherworld of sex trafficking and abuse. In this excerpt, Jenea describes how she left her rural village in Moldova to work as a housekeeper abroad, only to wind up as a virtual prisoner in a foreign brothel, forced to work as a prostitute.

Young girls in Kenya fight back against the culturally ingrained and brutal practice of female circumcision in “Abandon the Knife.”

Oscar and Emmy-nominated director Kirby Dick introduces a clip from his new documentary, “The Invisible War,” which delves into the shockingly pervasive epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. This film prompted U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to announce substantial changes in policy strengthening the military’s prosecution of rape cases.

A civil rights worker in Pakistan struggles to defend the rights of bonded laborers who work as virtual slaves in the short documentary “If You Believe,” by Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

The Women’s Kingdom” takes you inside one of the world’s last remaining matriarchal societies. Residents of this isolated region in southwest China practice a unique form of free love called “walking marriages.”

National Geographic photographer Stephanie Sinclair spent eight years documenting the practice of child marriage around the world. Her multimedia piece, “Too Young to Wed,” profiles the young girls caught up in a tradition that is still prevalent across continents, language, religion and caste despite repeated efforts to ban it. 

You can watch the entire “Half the Sky” playlist here

Next week on The I Files …

We present a BBC News investigation revealing the persecution of gays in Iraq by the very law enforcement agencies that are supposed to protect them. We’ll also launch a slew of other stories from major contributors like The New York Times, ABC and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Check in daily with The I Files to dig deeper and investigate what’s new in your world.

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Amanda Pike (she/her) is the director of the TV and documentary department and executive producer of films and series at Reveal. Under her leadership, The Center for Investigative Reporting garnered its first Academy Award nomination and four national Emmys, among other accolades. She was the executive producer of the inaugural year of the Glassbreaker Films initiative, supporting women in documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism. She has spent the past two decades reporting and producing documentaries for PBS, CBS, ABC, National Geographic, A&E, Lifetime and The Learning Channel, among others. Subjects have ranged from militia members in Utah to young entrepreneurs in Egypt and genocide perpetrators in Cambodia. Pike also has dabbled in fiction filmmaking, producing the short film “On the Assassination of the President,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.