|Empowering Women:Through the Lens of Half the Sky
and Handcrafting Justice|
by Sang Hyo Kim
In Picture - Volunteering at Handcrafting Justice:
Professor Sean Murray, Sang Hyo Kim
Ever since reading The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel on gender
oppression, I have gained interest in women’s rights. In my college
English Composition course (spring 2013), we were assigned a
research paper; I chose the topic of women’s equality. To gain more
knowledge of the field and to broaden my interest, I volunteered at
Handcrafting Justice, a women’s empowerment organization.
The goal of Handcrafting Justice (HCJ) is to lift women out of
poverty in the developing world. Women are given the opportunity to
create products, which are then imported to the United States and
sold into the fair trade market. For the products HCJ purchases,
the women receive an income, allowing them to earn and save up
While I was preparing the items to be sold into the fair trade
market, I noticed a beautiful bracelet; it was of different colors
and the pattern was so magnificent. When I asked about the
background of this bracelet, the coordinator told me that it was
made from 100% paper. I was shocked; how could anyone make this
gorgeous bracelet from just paper alone?
I came to realize that diamonds and Prada products are not
everything to life. From my experience, the bracelet made from the
paper brought me the greatest joy. The passion and effort put into
all the bracelets, bags, and quilts dolls were indeed evident. I
felt the warmth the women put into their designs; these women are
not just women, but great and talented artisans.
Throughout my volunteering, I have learned the value of actually
taking action. It is easy for someone to say, “I want to help,” but
actually moving the body out of the comfort zone is difficult to
do. I have also become a stronger activist for the empowering of
women; I always try to seek fair trade logos everywhere I go.
Further, I love to do online shopping and my first stop is to look
at the goods from the HCJ website.
Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky, visited St. John's
University and told us that to increase our chance of happiness, we
must seek and help others. I reflected on such words and came to
realize that she is absolutely correct. Happiness does not rise out
of the blue; we must consistently consider the well-being of
others. By helping others, we are in a mutual connection between
the receivers and ourselves.
Today, people are oblivious to the small things they have and want
more. However, we should take a step back and for once consider a
woman who is in desperate need to feed her family. What other form
of happiness is there than feeling great that our contribution is
providing her children with proper nutrition and strong