Gender inequity is a devastating reality that is shaped by stories – stories of girls stripped of their dreams for education and a career by teen pregnancy or early marriage, stories of women threatened and harassed because of their audacity to run for office, stories of families torn apart because of societal pressures to “keep women and girls in their place”. As the world gears up to renew its commitment to gender equity by celebrating International Women’s Day, Women and Girls Lead Global (WGLG) continues its efforts to change the way women’s stories are told and received.
WGLG is driven by the belief that storytelling is a fundamental way in which we can trigger change. In a world where women are objectified and disempowered in popular media every day, WGLG endeavors to shift the way people experience media and storytelling. The powerful character-driven documentaries we share with audiences around the world are a unique and empowering form of media that brings women and girls’ stories of struggle and triumph into the foreground. From two Ethiopian girls who aspire to be Olympic runners, to a powerful Kenyan leader who starts a revolution with a thousand seeds, to a group of grandmothers who travel to India from across the globe to train as engineers, these true stories of hope have allowed us to make a meaningful impact in communities in the United States, India, Jordan, Bangladesh, Peru and Kenya.
A combination of film screenings and community-based partnerships have allowed us to introduce reproductive health education in 65 classrooms across Peru, reach 2.7 million television viewers and 2.3 million radio listeners with stories of strong women leaders in Kenya, help 28 young people in Jordan to reach thousands of online viewers with their self-produced films about gender discrimination, generate more than 100 community-designed gender equality solutions in India, and partner with 365 schools to introduce girl-centric improvements in Bangladesh. In light of these outcomes, it has never been clearer to us that storytelling has real-world impact. Films not only show us the world we live in, but they can help us construct another world.
One of the many success stories comes out of Jordan. After hearing about women’s film clubs in another neighborhood, one woman offered up her own home to host film screenings for family, friends and neighbors. She was driven by her desire to raise awareness about gender-based violence and women’s empowerment. Inspired by the stories in the films, she has since rented a small shop where she offers handicrafts training to women who want to improve their standard of living. She already has 10 trainees and hopes to expand her workshop to sell their handcrafted products.
So, as governments across the world commit to “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”, to address the various barriers that stand in the way of women and girls, WGLG renews its own commitment to bridging the gender equality gap through the power of stories. Every day, around the world, WGLG will continue empowering grassroots partners to use films as a catalyst for meaningful conversations, a window to a world of possibilities, and a spark for critical changes that make women and girls safer, healthier, and more successful in their homes and communities.