Jane Fonda

Appears as a contributor in 'The World Needs Your Kid'
Jane Fonda
Jane and her father, Henry Fonda, made history by becoming the first father and daughter to both be nominated for an Oscar in the same year
She has been a vocal proponent of peace and justice, and her efforts have helped to bring about positive change in the world
In 2005, she co-founded the Women's Media Center, a non-profit organization that works to amplify the voices of women in the media

Jane Fonda's contribution from 'The World Needs Your Kid'

My father didn't talk much, but through the roles he chose to play he conveyed a social ethic of justice and equality that had a profound effect on me. In The Grapes of Wrath, he was a union organizer and in The Wrong Man, he played an innocent man charged with a crime he didn't commit. He was a cowboy in The Ox-Bow Incident, stopping a mob from lynching innocent men. In Young Mr. Lincoln he portrayed one of America's most revered presidents. The effect his example had on me has manifested itself in many ways throughout the course of my life, particularly during the Vietnam War and later, working to prevent teenage pregnancies in Georgia.

The Vietnam War had been going on for a number of years before I joined the anti-war movement. I have asked myself many times, "Why did I choose not to know for so long what was going on in Vietnam?" | think unconsciously I knew that if I allowed myself to know then I would not be able to turn away. And my life would not be the same anymore. What was my life? I had just turned thirty, had a new baby and was living a relatively superficial, relatively hedonistic life with blinders on. I could continue as I was, or I could throw myself into the fray. Because I am my father's daughter, chose the latter. Damn the consequences.

As I spoke out against the war, I met people at rallies, vigils, fasts and Gl coffee houses that were very different than people I had ever known before. These were college-educated people who could have done different things with their lives, but chose to use their lives in very generous and altruistic ways. These people had a profound effect on me. I am indebted, for example, to a woman named Terry Davis, who I met at a GI coffee house in Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood. It was 1968 and my movie Barbarella had just opened and some people I had met in the movement were using my acclaim to gain attention for the cause. I didn't mind so much. But Terry treated me like a human being. She asked my opinions and made sure I was included in discussions. It was like getting into a warm bath.

It made me understand the type of world we were fighting for, and it's also one of the things that allowed me to survive the controversy and attacks against me for my involvement in the anti-war movement.

For the rest of my life, whether it was the raising of children or grandchildren, or making movies or writing books, I wanted to feel that I was moving in the direction of humanity and love. I have tried to do what Terry did for me. I try to listen to others, be open to what they say and see them as human beings.

When you see others as human beings, you want to help them. That was the case after I attended the United Nations Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994. At the time, I was the UN Goodwill Ambassador to the UN Population Fund. I was frankly surprised that the entire conference was organized under the aegis of gender. Until then, I hadn't fully understood that women in the developing world have no social or economic power. They also don't have the power to negotiate with their husbands about the use of contraception. If they say, "I don't want more children. I'm going to use contraception," they will be beaten and perhaps killed. Their only status is very often having large families.

When I was in Cairo, I visited a community of garbage pickers. They dumped the trash they'd scavenged into their living rooms and their children, mostly girls, picked through it. A local social services organization had tried unsuccessfully to convince their parents to educate the girls. So instead they started a program where the girls were paid $17 a month to turn trash into recycled goods. As they sat in a circle, using scrap fabric to fashion quilts or used paper to make stationery, the girls were taught to read. They were also educated about family planning. It may seem paltry, but that $17 a month allowed the lives of these girls to be changed profoundly. Because they were wage earners, they suddenly had value to their family. And because they were learning to read, the could negotiate with doctors and take charge of health care. And because they understood family planning, they could say to their families, "I am not going to get married. I am going to wait and have a smaller family." Something as simple as $17 a month altered the balance of power within the family.

I took the lessons I learned in Cairo back home to Georgia, which had extreme pockets of poverty and the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in the United States. I spent a year researching this crisis and trying to figure out how I could help. I remember meeting a fourteen-year-old African American girl who was in labor with her second child. She lived in a tar paper shack with no indoor plumbing. She looked straight into my eyes and unblinkingly challenged me to judge her. I realized that unless I could change her life circumstances and create a future for her, I had no business talking to her about birth control.

If you want to reduce teen pregnancy, and all risky behavior, then you have to give hope. Hope is the best contraception. A year after going to Cairo, I founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. We describe our work as "above the waist" because what goes on between the ears of young people is more important than what goes on between their legs in terms of determining their behaviors. This work is not just some charity work for me; it's part of my gut. Just like Terry Davis taught me, even though I'm white and privileged, I know that if you listen to people from your heart, it changes them. And it changes you.

The World Needs Your Kid
With a forward by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this book is a must read for any parents or teachers that offers inspiring lessons from remarkable individuals, committed parents and compassionate children. With revealing stories and insights from the not-so-typical childhoods of Craig and Marc Kielburger, readers will learn how small actions every day can make the world a better place and have a lasting influence on their child's life.
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