“Why Women Count”, an international series on women’s rights is launched in India
Each film is of five minutes. Surprising how just five minutes is enough to open a window into the lives of each of these seven women from seven countries, with different ground realities, all upsetting, some life-taking. That all of them, having learnt to negotiate fruitfully the hairpin bends of life, have come out as clear winners, rather role models, is pretty evident.
Take Fadia Bazzeh, a single mother and a news producer for a Lebanese channel. With powerful visuals, she recreates in a few minutes the dangerous environment that she worked under after volunteering to report the ravages of Israeli warplanes on southern Lebanon in 2006. As she lives alone with her son, “it was not easy to carry this responsibility.” Fadia signs off saying, “But I need to work around the constraints of my society so I can stand on my own feet and live my life as a journalist and a mother.”
If this is an assertion of an urban woman’s strength of empowerment in a hostile milieu, then there is 19-year-old Ardiana Shehu from the remote, war-torn village of Krusha, exhibiting the will to live in a war-torn Kosovo. The film starts with the line – Ardiana, her mother and her sisters do all the farm jobs usually regarded as man’s work.
With almost 70 per cent of Krusha’s male population lost to the 1999 Serbian military offensive, it now has only women and children.
These films on Fadia and Ardiana form part of seven short films, screened at New Delhi’s British Council recently to launch “Why Women Count”, an international series of 41 films to showcase individual stories of women empowerment, “what it means in the reality of women’s lives.” The TVE (Television for the Environment) initiative, jointly with Department for International Development India besides other organisations, have been broadcast on BBC World and Al Jazeera (English) apart from being distributed through TVE’s 49 partners, broadcast and non-broadcast.
“TVE has done three such series since 2004. By screening these films, the idea is to help free flow of information,” says Jenny Richards, Deputy Director, TVE.
Widows of Nepal
Yet another film, screened at the Council, a TVE partner in the project, is about Lily Thapa from Nepal. A widow in her early 30s, she shows grit by getting together other widows to fight the brutality traditionally meted out to such women in Nepal. The famous story of Pakistan’s Mukhtar Mai, her struggle for justice and how she used her compensation money to open a school and women’s welfare centre in her home village too finds place in the screening.
Sierra Leone’s first woman Chair of a town council, Mary Musa, and Njoki Ndungu, one of the 18 women MPs in Kenya’s male-dominated National Assembly feature too.
The film from India, “Queens of the Grassroots” is interesting simply because it proves many a common deduction wrong. It features three women sarpanch, from Punjab, a State with one of the highest rates of female foeticide. Mostly through conversation with them, the producer, Poojita Choudhury succeeds to disprove the notion that they are mere proxies for their husbands.
These and the rest of the films are available on DVDs and can be bought by writing to email@example.comSANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY