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Hey, How'd You Write A Tome For Social Change, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn?

Married Times veterans Kristof and WuDunn champion women's rights and hope to spark a social movement for the greater good

- September 1, 2009
When they started Half the Sky, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and former Times reporter and editor Sheryl WuDunn were already award-winning journalists and authors, with a happy marriage and three kids. But there was one issue the couple felt needed their attention: the challenges faced by women in developing nations.

It took more than two years to convince publishers to take a chance on their idea, which eventually became Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, due in bookstores on September 8. But Kristof and WuDunn were not happy with just writing a book that tells stories of women's struggles. They wanted to create a grassroots movement to raise awareness of the cause, and show people how to make a difference. "What we've written is a sort of do-it-yourself foreign aid tool kit. We hope to inform people, but also really help them figure how they can go about making a difference."

Kristof and WuDunn are also giving back themselves: They put part of the advance for Half the Sky toward founding a middle school in Cambodia, launched HalfTheSkyMovement.org, a Web site devoted to spreading their message, and are planning other projects to tie into the book, including a Web-based game and a telethon.

The couple will be honored with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement later this month, which will join the Pulitzer Prize the couple won in 1990 -- becoming the first married couple to do so. While they work on Half the Sky-related projects, including a book tour later this year, Kristof is continuing to write his NYT column and WuDunn is planning to go back to work in the financial industry later in the fall. mediabistro.com caught up with the busy duo to discuss how their journalism backgrounds informed Half the Sky, their interest in women's rights, and what it's like to work together while raising a family together....

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