Filmmakers passionate about women’s rights might be interested in the Izhar By Film Fellowship for aspiring moviemakers, sponsored by Morango Films and UN Women in Pakistan. I’m pleased to support them in this endeavor, which will highlight the social and political rights of women in Pakistan.
Here’s the brief:
The Izhar By Film Fellowship (IBFF) program has been created with an aim of building on the youth’s skills as storytellers and mentoring youngsters to use film as a medium to ‘express’ themselves on issues of social importance. The primary aim of the project is to help participants become responsible citizens regardless of their gender and be aware of, and make others aware of, the rights females are entitled to in the society eventually promoting equality in Pakistan.
The broad areas this fellowship shall focus on include:
- Harassment-free workplaces/educational institutes
- Women’s access to safe public spaces (including bus stations, streets etc.)
- Internet safety for women (including freedom from cyber violence)
- Women’s political rights (with focus on right to vote and right to contest elections)
I was asked to talk about one of the above areas of the fellowship, and here’s what I had to say about women’s access to safe public spaces:
“As citizens of Pakistan, woman have the right to safe public spaces, including bus stations and streets. The answer to issues of public safety is not for women to stay at home, but to demand that governments, civic institutions, organizers, and lawmakers ensure we are protected wherever we go. I was heartened by the actions of pop star Atif Aslam, who stopped his musical concert in order to help a woman who was being sexually harassed by a man in the audience. It would have been so easy to blame her for being there in the first place. Instead, he put the responsibliity right where it belonged: on the harasser. Let’s change our attitudes towards women’s safety in public and change for the positive will inevitably follow.”
Hope to see lots of filmmakers, women and men, enter this interesting and important competition.