While many of us work from home, either in self-imposed or official quarantine, it is time to remember those wonderful women of our times, who, in patriarchal societies, have stood up for their causes and changed the destinies of millions of women around them – for the better.
8 March 2020 is International Women’s Day (IWD) and the theme for this year is #EachforEqual. IWD 2020 sees a number of MISSIONS to help forge a gender equal world. Celebrating women's achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality, is key.
Through this article Green Initiatives is paying tribute to some of the most engaging, thought-provoking documentaries around education, environment and social justice featuring women.
Jane’s Journey (2010)
Photo Credit: Andre Zacher
The documentary follows Dr. Jane Goodall, a well-known anthropologist famous for her work with primates in Africa, as she travels through the world speaking about her conservationism and scientific research, most notably her four-and-a-half-decade long study of African chimpanzees. Although well into her 70s at the time of this film, Goodall is sprightly, energetic and a seemingly endless font of knowledge about her subject in particular and conservationism in general.
Girl Rising (2013)
Photo credit: https://girlrising.org/
“Educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. So why are millions of girls still not in school?”
This is the basic premise of this film, directed by Academy Award-nominated Director Richard Robbins, which features voices of celebrated actresses including Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, and Anne Hathaway, among others, to tell the stories of nine girls from nine countries i.e. Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India and Cambodia. Their stories reflect their struggles to overcome societal or cultural barriers.
These girls struggle every day for freedom, education and a voice in their home countries. According to the film’s official website, the film uses the power of storytelling to change the way the world values girls and their education.
Green Initiatives screened this film in 2015 and was well-received by those who attended.
He Named Me Malala (2015)
A documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim, that presents the young Pakistani female activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, who has spoken out for the rights of girls, especially the right to education, since she was very young. The film is based on the book, I Am Malala, that tells the tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
Under the Dome (2015)
A self-financed, Chinese documentary film by Chai Jing, a former China Central Television journalist, concerning air pollution in China. Chai Jing started making the documentary when her as yet unborn daughter, developed a tumour in the womb, which had to be removed very soon after her birth. As well as data, she reveals footage from factory visits and interviews with government officials, environmental experts and business owners. The film has been compared with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in both its style and likely impact.
Green Initiatives screened this film in Singapore in June 2019.
Udita - Arise (2015)
Udita, a film by Rainbow Collective, follows 5 years in the lives of the women at the grass roots of the garment workers struggle in Bangladesh. From 2010, when organising in the workplace would lead to beatings, sacking and arrests; through the tragedies of Tazreen and Rana Plaza, and to the present day, when the long fight begins to pay dividends. We see this vital period through the eyes of the unions' female members, workers and leaders.
How do you tell if a state is making progress? If people’s lives there are improving?
This film was born of a desire to see the world through a woman’s eyes. Then the questions started to flow. What are the stages marking a woman’s passage from little girl to 80-year-old grandma? What are her dreams and hopes as well as her greatest fears and scars? What does she expect of life, society and men?
This film might be the most fitting symbol of humans’ capacity to achieve incredible progress in a very short space of time and of our propensity to equally rapid regression.
Weak, stupid, talkative, jealous, frivolous and hysterical, or else delicate, sweet, devoted, modest: all these things are allegedly part of a woman’s “nature”.
This film is another incredible work of Green Initiatives’ favourite director, Yann-Arthus Bertrand. We had originally scheduled the screening of this film in Q1-2020, but will delay it further until the Covid-19 situation is under control.
** The below are feature films inspired by real-life, not documentaries, yet they send out a powerful message. **
The film, directed by Oscar-winning director of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, and shares the journey of young Mija and her beloved pet pig, Okja. For 10 idyllic years Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja - a massive animal and an even bigger friend - at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija's dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.
According to The Guardian,
"Okja uses the trappings of sci-fi fantasy to ask uncomfortably down-to-earth questions about where our food comes from, exposing the savage teeth of consumerism behind the friendly smile of corporate capitalism."
Film was screened by Green Initiatives in September 2017.
Is one slap enough to question what a relationship stands for?
Thappad, meaning ‘slap’, is an Indian Hindi-language drama film that shares the story of a woman who files for divorce after her husband slaps her. The best thing about the film is that it shows us a reality, a story hidden in plain sight all along in typical male-oriented societies. The story is so ubiquitous that it does not even seem like an issue. The film is often indifferent to things that are so insignificant that they may as well not exist. It talks about a mindset, without being aggressive.
Writes a well-known film critic, “..it is about a woman rediscovering her sense of self, contemplating what is fair and what isn’t. It’s about no longer disregarding the deep-rooted sexism and selfishness, and the casual insensitivity that women contend with everyday.”
Please watch them, share them, and spread inspiration around you. We could all do with more positive news in times flooded with depressing Covid-19 news.
The list is not an exhaustive list, and is more of a small collection of personal favorites of the Green Initiatives team. Let us know in the comments if you would like us to screen any of these films throughout the year.