Partners in Dhaka Prepared to “Use Film to Inspire Change”

spider web

A length of pink and white striped yarn wrapped around each of our wrists to form a web – connecting trainer to trainee, office staff to field staff, woman to man. Each of us declared our commitment to promoting girls’ education and ending child marriage across Bangladesh and around the world. Some promised to share what they had learned with their colleagues and communities. Some took a more personal oath to educate and nurture their own daughters, or to refuse wedding invitations when the bride was too young. The sense of community grew stronger as we each articulated our promise – our connections stretching not only across the room – but across Bangladesh, across borders, across the globe. Continue reading

Screening Inspires Commitment to End Child Marriage

In July, Country Engagement Coordinator Mahmud Hasan launched Women and Girls Lead Global in the district of Gagni in southern Bangladesh by convening 76 youth activists and a host of local leaders – including journalists, government officials, and police officers – for a screening of Revolutionary Optimists. A rural farming area where many families struggle with poverty, Gagni has a notoriously high child marriage rate. Revolutionary Optimists, which tells the story of a youth group striving to improve their community in the slums of Calcutta, India  – features an adolescent girl who drops out of school and leaves the group to marry her boyfriend. Continue reading

The Lengths Girls Go to Get to School

BANGLADESH_schoolgirls_3For girls in the village of Patnitala in northern Bangladesh, the route to school is fraught with challenges. More than half of the population lives below the poverty line. Most of their families are subsistence farmers without the means to pay for transportation or proper school shoes for their children.  So the girls walk the two miles to get to class barefoot each day, cutting across rice fields, crossing rivers, and splashing through mud puddles. Continue reading

She Matters: Women, Girls and Progress

Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real, meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. In She Matters, director Maro Chermayeff tells stories from India, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and Vietnam about women and girls who have become change-agents in their communities. Continue reading

Invoking Justice

In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats – all-male community councils who rule according to Islamic Sharia law. Women are forbidden to be present, even to defend themselves. Frustrated by this fundamental inequity, Sharifa, a long-time feminist, and a group of Muslim women established a Women’s Jamaat in 2003  an extraordinary act of courage, since traditionally Jamaats can only be founded and run by men. Continue reading

I Was Worth 50 Sheep

Sabere was only seven years old when her father died in war. Her cousin inherited her, and following a long-practiced tradition in Afghanistan, he sold her when she was 10 years old to Golmohammad, a man in his 50s and a member of the Taliban. Over the next six years, she became pregnant four times, miscarrying each time. The cause may have been her youth, or the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. On a trip to Mazar-e sharif, Sabere managed to escape and make her way to a women’s shelter. Continue reading

Motherland Afghanistan

Afghan-American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi follows her father home to Afghanistan to battle one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Dr. Qudrat Mojadidi is an OB/GYN who was forced by political pressures to emigrate from Afghanistan to the U.S. in 1972. In 2003, nearly two years after the Taliban’s fall, he is invited by the U.S. government to help rehabilitate the largest women’s hospital in the country. He returns to his homeland with great hopes that he can help set in motion the large-scale changes necessary to stem the country’s epidemic of maternal mortality. Continue reading