This year, Peace Corps Volunteers in Peru will bring a collection of powerful documentary films into communities across the country through a partnership with Women and Girls Lead Global (WGLG). WGLG uses film to help partners in five countries spark community dialogue on their most pressing gender equality issues. This is the first time WGLG will work with the Peace Corps, and the possibilities are as exciting and diverse as the Volunteers and the communities they serve. Volunteers from all sectors – whether youth development, business, health, water and sanitation, or environment – are encouraged to integrate gender equality measures into their projects. Part of a worldwide Peace Corps gender and development initiative, Peace Corps Peru’s Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment (GenEq) committee helps Volunteers find creative ways to do this. Continue reading
When a 10 year-old girl in Haryana, India can see that her community is in need of more male heroes to protect the safety, livelihood and rights of women and girls, something must be done. Continue reading
A reflection on intergenerational organizing, in honor of AWID’s #ICommit Tweetathon!
When you ask many parents in Indian villages about education, they’ll tell you that it’s an investment – and beyond that, that it’s more valuable to invest in a son’s education than a daughter’s. That’s what Bhagwat Thorat would have told you before he went to a community screening of the film Revolutionary Optimists. He had pulled each of his three daughters out of school when they reached puberty, fearful that if he waited too long to find them husbands they would have fewer prospects, that they would become victims to sexual violence, or if nothing else, that his investment would end up benefitting the husband’s family and not his own. Continue reading
Five countries, six languages, and 100 young people leading change in their communities. Please join Women and Girls Lead Global at our Global Gathering for Girls. We’ll be convening youth from Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Jordan and Peru via Google Hangout to discuss how they’re tackling the greatest challenges facing girls in their countries.
For the past year, Women and Girls Lead Global has been screening films for communities of farmers, educators, politicians and schoolchildren across the five countries where we work – Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Peru and Jordan. For many audience members, it’s the first time they’ve seen films about real girls and women triumphing over adversity. It’s also often the first time they’ve had a chance to discuss issues like child marriage and public safety for girls and women.
Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorite audience responses from our first season of Women of the World films. Their comments suggest the very idea that inspired WGLG: that documentary film has the power to move, inspire and empower people, and to begin the process of catalyzing change.
"Women have the strength in themselves to bring peace to a community, and now we know that we also can do this for our own homes." Hawa, Kupi Banya Group, Marsabit, Kenya
"After watching this film, I think to myself, what is my role in making sure that the conflict stops? How will I ensure that the killings will stop? If every person in my community started thinking this way, we could all get together, go to the local authorities, and together we would banish the very root cause of this conflict - tribalism." Barako Jaldesa group member, Marsabit, Kenya
“To prevent early marriage, I will sit with the students’ parents 4 times a year and will discuss about the consequences of early marriage. I will also motivate my students by arranging a meeting.” Assistant Head Master, Shatkhira, Bangladesh
“If any child marriage is held in my area, I will never give it any kind of support - rather I will protest all child marriages.” - Social activist, Naogaon, Bangladesh
“The film motivated us to think that we too, like the Go Girl program in Kibera, are able to save and accomplish much if we try.” - Audience member in Kenya
“We have been very divided even as women who ought to work together. We need to have love, peace and good working relationships to carry forward our efforts to bring peace in this season of unrest.” - Woman community member, Nairobi, Kenya
“Wangari Maathai showed us that despite being divorced and struggling a lot in life a woman can still stand up to the world.” - Woman community member, Manyatta, Kenya
“The movie is very much applicable to Marsabit County, where we experience tribal conflicts. We as group members can now team up to meet women from different tribes to try to bring an end to the conflicts. Since women are usually the catalysts and men follow their words, including war songs... so we can also sing peace songs to neutralize the situation.” Hawo, Kupi Banya group member, Kenya
“I see that women - the ones who feel pain and sorrow can also find the strength to fight for those who they are passionate about.” - Male community member, Kisumu, Kenya
“In the present situation my village girls don’t get equal rights as boys so I want to be highly educated so that I can fight for equal rights.” Nishat, 8th grade student, Moulvibazar, Bangladesh
“I will get my proper education and I will serve the nation by preventing early marriage.” Student, Naogaon, Bangladesh
“I will no longer register any couple under 18 years of age for marriage." - Local wedding registrar, Naogaon, Bangladesh
“I want higher education, not early marriage.” - Salma Akter, student, Gangni, Bangladesh
“I will protect girls from early marriage, in collaboration with other village representatives.” - Dr. Shekh Mahbubur Rahman,Shatkhira, Bangladesh
“Revolutionary Optimists showed me that whatever I have learned in my life can be used for a greater purpose. I feel that I am not small.” - Sumaiya Jahan Rakhi, university Student, Bangladesh
She introduced herself to the world with something she called her HIV prayer. “Hello, HIV, you trespasser”. Young and beautiful, Thembi emerged from the shantytowns of South Africa on a mission to take on HIV. She traveled the world, met Barack Obama and spoke to congress. During her short life Thembi lived strong and proud, she welcomed the world into her life with open arms, her words giving hope to millions; this heartrending documentary takes you on her incredible journey.
Three women. Three wars. One dream. A universal story of women’s courage and survival in the aftermath of war.
Lanja is a journalist in Iraq, fearlessly giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burnt and threatened to death by their own families. Maia fights for women’s sexual rights in the breakaway region Abkhazia, Georgia and battles archaic customs like “bride kidnapping.” Nelly runs a women’s cooperative in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia, empowering women through education and hands-on ways to make money for their families.
While thousands of miles apart, the women are united by similar challenges to fulfilling their shared dream of a better life.
Internationally-acclaimed, multiple-award winning filmmaker Kim Longinotto (Rough Aunties, World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentary, Sundance 2009) returns with Salma — the extraordinary story of a woman who becomes the legendary activist, politician, poet, Salma.
For nine years, until she agreed to an arranged marriage, Salma was trapped first by her family and then again by her husband – physically locked away, unable to continue her education and forced to write her passionate words secretly. Only Salma’s anger and determination kept her focused on obtaining her freedom. When Salma’s visceral poems reached a publisher, their frank and open observations about her own sexuality, her forced marriage and her village’s customs made her an overnight sensation, much to the displeasure of her family and village. Pushed into running in an election as a village leader by her husband, Salma unexpectedly is elected and becomes the voice for women also imprisoned by the same fate. Her legendary refusal to follow traditional Muslim customs and her outspokenness about the treatment of village women secure her status as a true rebel in the face of an ancient and brutal tradition.
Crafted as a slowly unfolding detective story, Longinotto carefully peels past the layers of contradictions that define Salma — an engaged, contributing protagonist whose emerging voice loudly soars above the “knots and ties of love” used to imprison the female heart and soul.
Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls is an intimate portrait of a spirited young Australian band manager as she tries to empower Myanmar’s first all girl band to speak out in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
“I don’t know if I’m helping or hindering them. But once you’ve encouraged someone to find their voice, you can’t just expect them to shut back up again can you?” The film follows the quest of one idealistic ex-pat and five starry-eyed Myanmar girls who are fighting for their right to sing in a country where freedom of speech carries enormous risk.
The Tiger Girls have emerged at a sensitive time in Myanmar’s history. After their first election in two decades and the recent release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a mood for change exists. There are obvious parallels between the destiny of the country and the destiny of the band. Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls is a powerful metaphor of a country on the brink of change. It explores freedom of expression, censorship, art vs. fame, and the ripple effect of empowering the voiceless through music.
Their voices are suppressed, prohibited, and censored. But world-famous bloggers Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan, and Farnaz Seifi are not frightened of their dictatorial regimes. These fearless women stand for a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China, and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly – putting their lives at great risk.
Barbara Miller’s film, Forbidden Voices, accompanies these brave young rebels on their dangerous journey and traces their use of social media like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to denounce and combat the violations of human rights and freedom of speech in their countries – thereby triggering international resonance by building up enormous political pressure.
TIME Magazine counts them among the world’s most influential voices. Based on their moving eyewitness reports and clandestine footage, Forbidden Voices pays homage to their courageous battle.