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Half the Sky Facebook game to create awareness about sex slave trafficking

Pulitzer-Prize-winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn announced today that they’ll launch the latest installment of the Half the Sky Movement web-based Facebook game on March 4.

The title is an adventure game targeted at making mainstream audiences aware about the trafficking of girls and women as sex slaves — and other issues facing females in the third world. The New York Times writers want to raise charitable donations to empower girls and women around the world. Half the Sky debuted in November.

Executive produced by Games for Change, the title has support from Zynga.org, Ford Foundation, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, The Rockefeller Foundation, Pearson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the United Nations Foundation. All of the proceeds will benefit The Fistula Foundation, GEMS, Heifer International, United Nations Foundation, ONE, Room to Read, and World Vision.

Half the Sky introduces “direct virtual-to-real-life translation,” which is achieved by inviting players to move through a series of quests and stories related to real-world challenges that women and girls face. The issue-specific solutions come from seven nonprofits: The Fistula Foundation, GEMS, Heifer International, ONE, Room to Read, United Nations Foundation, and World Vision. The game invites players to make an impact on the real world.

“We want to reach a broader audience for these issues we care deeply about,” said Kristof and WuDunn in a statement. “We hope that a Facebook game that is fun and viral can be a way to do that, reaching people who aren’t now interested in women’s empowerment. This is an experiment because we’re not sure that there has ever been a social-purpose game with as much collective effort, and we’re hoping it is going to make a difference for the players — and for women and girls around the world.”

The game is part of a cross-media campaign for the Half the Sky Movement, which includes the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, published in 2009. It chronicles the problem of human sex trafficking around the globe. It also inspired a PBS television series, produced by Show of Force, which features celebrities America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, Olivia Wilde, and George Clooney. The first part of the series aired Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, and the next installment airs on PBS on March 8 at 10 pm. That day is International Women’s Day.

Inspired by the book and TV series, the game invites players to become part of the solution and make real-world impact through play. The idea for it arose when the authors participated in the 2009 Games for Change Festival. The next event will be held in New York from June 17 to June 19.

“Around 300 million people play games on Facebook across the globe on a monthly basis,” said Games for Change co-presidents Asi Burak and Michelle Byrd. “If we’re able to inspire a portion of this group of players to spend 15 or 30 minutes of their time with this game, the ripple effect of players’ actions will result in significant and much-needed funding for this critical cause.”

The story takes players on a global journey that begins in India and moves on to Kenya, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, ending in the U.S. The more you play, the more you help unlock charitable donations for the cause.


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