Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn called gender inequality “the greatest world challenge of our time” at Harvard China Care’s Seventh Annual Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction Saturday night. The event, designed to raise money for orphans in China, featured humorous and thought-provoking speeches alike, as comedian Joe Wong and Eric I. Lu ’09, a founder of the Jubilee Project, followed WuDunn at the podium.
Comparing gender inequity to the issue of slavery in the nineteenth century and totalitarianism in the twentieth, WuDunn said that empowering women and girls is not only a moral obligation but also a practical solution to combating global poverty.
“In rural places in China... what it takes to get ahead in school is not your IQ—it’s what chromosomes you have,” she said, emphasizing equal treatment of young girls and boys as one way to erase the gender gap.
In addition to her work in journalism, WuDunn co-wrote “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” with former Crimson editor Nicholas D. Kristof ’82.
“Women are part of the solution, not the problem,” she said.
WuDunn ended her address with a call for continued volunteerism.
“Devote a little part of your life to helping out,” she told the audience. “I hope that as you also look back at your life... you will not only look at the achievements that you’ve made in career and family and friends, but also at how you addressed the great inequities of the world.”
The comedian Joe Wong followed WuDunn at the podium and provided an entertaining interlude for the dinner guests. Like WuDunn, he addressed gender inequality—albeit in a more humorous light.
Referencing his wife’s greater income, he said, “in a few years, women will be making more than men...so I’m a pioneer.”
He also poked fun at the Harvard cheating scandal this year. “Apparently Harvard students are not good at everything,” he said.
The night ended with a video presentation by Eric I. Lu ’09, whose organization the Jubilee Project uses videos and social media to support various causes. Lu screened a draft of an unreleased video called “The Last Pick,” featuring Jeremy Lin encouraging a young boy to follow his basketball dreams.
“Videos can inspire and empower the next generation to achieve,” said Lu, who took a leave of absence from Harvard Medical School to help found the Jubilee Project.
He advised the audience to follow their passions as he had.
“Each one of us is made extraordinary by choosing to live a life true for ourselves,” he said. “Here in this room sits the next generation of people who are going to do extraordinary things—let’s do big things together.”
The event, which was first held seven years ago at the Harvard Faculty Club, now raises over twenty thousand dollars annually, according to Harvard China Care president Eden Liu ’13. Since 2009, the organization has donated all proceeds to a special care unit for infant orphans at the China Care Home in Beijing.