After watching several films about girls and women overcoming injustice around the world, a group of youth in Jordan were presented with a challenge: produce a short film that tells a story about the gender discrimination in your community.
The contest, “Share Films . . . Share Change” aimed to deepen participants’ understanding of gender-based violence through engaging them in a creative process. Young people participating in the Women and Girls Lead Global campaign in Jordan were asked to combine knowledge they had acquired from the campaign’s documentary film screenings with phenomena they’ve experienced in their own lives. Working in groups, participants submitted ten films. Six films were then short-listed, shared and voted on via the Facebook page for “I Have a Story”, Women and Girls Lead Global’s campaign against gender-based violence in Jordan.
Some of the stories shared in the films are based on true events, such as, “When Life Becomes Impossible”, about a woman’s suffering at the hands of an abusive husband. Another film, “The Inheritance”, addresses women being deprived of their inheritance, a common practice in some rural areas in Jordan. It wasn’t an easy film to make. Filmmaker Ahlam Al Zaideen began by doing off-camera interviews with her subjects – but once she turned the cameras on, all of the women refused to be interviewed, even if their identities were hidden. “They are not camera shy,” said Ahlam. “They don’t want people to know what their families did to them. They’re afraid of being stigmatized.” Ahlam herself was judged by her fellow villagers, who disapproved of her project. “They told my father that I was making trouble. But I’m lucky to have a father who is fair to all his children and he gave me his blessings.” Ahlam’s film, “The Inheritance”, was shared by many voters on Facebook, who called to put an end to this practice.
The winning film, “Meter x Meter”, is a poignant display of the many ways that girls are treated unfairly, starting with discrimination against girl babies and continuing on to the limits placed on girls’ freedom to study, work, and plan their own lives. “When a girl is born, the family feels a heavy burden because raising a girl requires their full attention and it’s stressful for them,” says filmmaker Hiba Al Nabulsi. “A girl’s life is not easy. She doesn’t get the opportunity to choose her studies, her career, and sometimes even her friends.”
Other films addressed harassment in public places and family violence against girls. All the films in the contest shared one important message: that women and girls are often not encouraged to share their suffering with others. Through bringing girls and women together to discuss their struggles, Women and Girls Lead Global hopes to encourage them to open up, and not to suffer in silence anymore.