Social media helps make indelible mark on lifesaving cause

UPDATED: New York Times writer tells tale of chance meeting, Twitter and ‘Half the sky’ tattoo

Because we live in a world where social media permeates daily life, Annie Rose Ramos - or at least her tattooed back -- may soon become a symbol for a global lifesaving cause that will get a round of deserved attention as a result.

First the picture, which has viral written on it as clearly as "half the sky." (And don't miss the update with her comments at the bottom):


Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times explains on Google+:

"The power of social media: Last night, at a speaking event at City College, I met a woman who told me that she had 'Half the Sky' tattooed on her back, from my book. It seemed inappropriate to ask a woman at a cocktail party to take off her shirt, so I chickened out of asking to see it. But I did post about it on (Facebook) and Twitter, and asked her to send a photo. She tweeted back. Turns out she is Annie Rose Ramos, and here's the tattoo. Incredibly cool, don't you think?"

For those who don't know, "Half the Sky" is both the title of a bestselling book, authored by Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and a multifaceted movement designed to address the horrifying mistreatment of women and girls worldwide. From the organization's Web site:


The central moral challenge of our time has reached a tipping point. Just as slavery was the defining struggle of the nineteenth century and totalitarianism that of the twentieth, the fight to end the oppression of women and girls worldwide defines ours. Embedded in the linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality (which still needlessly claims one woman every ninety seconds) is the single most vital opportunity of our time-and all over the world, women are seizing it. From Somaliland to Cambodia to Afghanistan, oppression is being confronted and real, meaningful solutions are being fashioned-through health care, education and economic empowerment for women and girls. Change is happening, and it's happening now.

In 2009, with the acclaimed bestselling book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (already in its 25th printing in hardback alone), journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn took on this urgent moral challenge and encouraged readers all over the world to join the burgeoning movement for change. Now, a landmark transmedia project-inspired by Kristof and WuDunn's work and also entitled HALF THE SKY-promises to amplify the book's impact. Ignited by a high-profile national television event, HALF THE SKY is fueled by a host of significant multi-platform initiatives.

There's much more detail at the site, including descriptions of the roles envisioned for technologies that include mobile video games, Facebook applications, monitoring and analytics, and multiple Web sites. The four-hour PBS television series will air in October.

Here's the tweet Kristof sent in search of the woman who turned out to be Ramos.


And here is her reply that carried the photo.


I'm trying to contact Ramos, though social media, naturally.

(Update: Ramos is a graduate student at the NYU School of Journalism, as well as an intern at Al Jazeera English in New York. Here is her email reply to my tweet asking about the tattoo:

“(Kristof) is the reason why I pursued a career in journalism following the Peace Corps - I saw how his book and NYTimes articles could create a dialogue about important issues for women who face insurmountable odds.

“In Botswana, where I served in the Peace Corps, I faced firsthand this reality.

“I had heard of the Chinese proverb ‘women hold up half the sky’ before but after reading the book while in Africa, I felt so motivated and inspired to make this statement permanent so that it would remind me of what I have seen and the daily struggles women go through across the globe. Sometimes I get so immersed in my own life I fail to remember that there are women out there who have real obstacles that they courageously defy and work to overcome. My tattoo reminds me of that. Nicholas Kristof reminds me of that. I would like to, one day, have the opportunity to remind people of that also.”) 

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