Give Girls a Chance organizes documentary screening to address issues of female education in Nigeria
August 06, 2019
There are many great ways that International Women's Day can be celebrated - and the medium of film is one of them.
For IWD, Give Girls a Chance conducted film screenings of three documentaries to address the issue of female education and empowerment. This was in line with the charity's vision where every Nigerian girl of primary and secondary school age is enrolled in school and on track to successfully continue onto tertiary education.
Using documentary films to inspire engagement and action
Give Girls a Chance wanted to use IWD as a chance to raise awareness and generate dialogue around the lack of access to education for girls from low income families in a fun but informative way. Give Girls a Chance partnered with two organizations, Paged Initiative and Griot Studios, to create a mini film festival called 'Watch Women Win Series' celebrating inspiring and radical women whose stories embodied the IWD theme of a #BalaceforBetter by bridging gender disparity.
Rebuilding uprooted life and discovering empowerment
The first film in the series, 'Uprooted', was for women between the ages of 17 and 25. The documentary followed four women displaced by conflicts in North East Nigeria as they rebuild their lives and discover empowerment through gaining livelihoods and access to decision-making power.
The documentary was followed by an engaging panel session with accomplished women across traditionally male careers. These women highlighted a connection between the themes of the documentary and their personal success. As current college students or recent graduates, the women benefited from some great career advice and were inspired to pursue jobs regardless of perceived gender boundaries.
Teaching girls to pursue the education they deserve
The next documentary of the series, 'Brave Girl Rising', was screened at a local high school for girls between grades 6 and 12. The film tells the story of a courageous Sudanese refugee girl who, inspired by the magical dreams of her mother and the sisterhood of her friends, succeeds in getting the education she deserves. Again, the two screenings of the film were followed by discussions among the students about how important education is to develop their own unique skills, talents and strengths.
Learning about the strength of women in times of conflict
The final film of the series was called 'Naila and the Uprising' for an audience of young professional women between the ages of 25 and 35. The documentary tells the story of Palestinian political activist Naila Ayesh who spearheaded a clandestine network of women at the height of the Gaza conflict in the late 80s. The women mobilized for a history-defining movement that forced the international community to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination. The film was again followed by a discussion on the resilience of women in times of conflict and their indispensable role in finding peace.
Sharing stories of women from Give Girls a Chance
To promote the film series, Give Girls a Chance ran a social media campaign in the days leading up to IWD where women mentors from Give Girls a Chance struck the iconic #BalanceforBetter pose. These women shared insights into their work and what a #BalanceforBetter means for them.
One woman, Mema Oiukwu, said “#BalanceforBetter to me simply means giving giving girls equal opportunity to make a difference in the world. And what Give Girls a Chance is doing is filling up and closing the gaps in the system. And I think it’s doing a pretty good job.”
Another woman, Onyinye Nweke, explained “I believe in the theme for International Women’s Day this year, which is #BalanceforBetter. I believe every girl, just like every boy, should be given an opportunity," while Ogechi Nweke added: “My #BalanceforBetter is to create a more gender balanced world whereby more women and girls will be able to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Finally, Ambassador Obiageli Ohakim said “Businesses can no longer afford to continue to ignore the increasingly large customer base and talent pool that women provide. Women need to be involved in businesses, in government, in boards, in organisations, at different levels of leadership.”
Using each woman's unique strength to change the narrative
Give Girls a Chance's IWD film series used real and relatable stories of radical women that opened up discussion around issues of education and empowerment of young girls and women both in Nigeria and globally. Give Girls a Chance also increased the impact of the films by tailoring the screening to the particular audience and age group in the understanding that this would bring the issues closer to home.
However, there were also uniting factors across the film series. Each documentary showed how women are vital to social progression, how traditional roles of women are being redefined for better, and how women can succeed even in the worst situations.
Not only were the audience able to hear about these important gender-related issues, but they were also able to discuss them with representatives from Give Girls a Chance.
"We were able to hear and exchange meaningful insights on issues unique to women and discuss suggestions for progress. Tangible advice and life lessons were shared to encourage each other which was a great demonstration of one of our primary focal areas - providing mentorship opportunities to girls to improve their mental, physical and emotional well-being," explains the Co-Founder of Give Girls a Chance.
"The documentaries showcased also highlighted another issue that is pivotal to our organization - advocating for education of the girl-child and bridging the educational gender gap between males and females which ultimately is a catalyst for female empowerment and and mobilization. It was important that we convey to our audiences that the realization of gender equality starts with awareness of the issue and utilizing our unique strengths to change the narrative."