Meeting on 8 August 2013

Being a good intern!

Being a good intern!

On Thursday, August 8th, Heidi and I met to discuss the 50+ Judges who I thought would be excellent for this year’s film festival focused on sexualized violence. They include journalists, film directors, professors, non-profit directors, activists. and more. I also had the chance to work with our new logos for the festival, which are wonderful (see below)! Following this meeting, I was able to make the final Judge packet with the logo and approved language from Heidi, Betsy (a team member from the previous film festival) and the board of Directors. I also began work on a statistics project on Muslim majority countries.

In explaining my work, I think it’s important to make the following clarification: WVN’s objective is not to demonize Islam. No, WVN’s goal is to ensure that voices from within Islam and Muslim communities are heard and understood as complex harbors of culture and tradition.  This culture is being reinterpreted and analyzed from within. It is important that weight is given to these culturally critical voices, especially those that seek to protect the rights of women. WVN also believes that it is important to HEAR the plurality of voices from Islam around the world, especially pro-women voices, so as to better understand the change-agents in these societies.  In remaining dedicated to listening and sharing female and pro-woman voices, I’m learning how this movement is growing globally. Our support has increased two-fold on Twitter and visits to our website are coming from everywhere (especially in Africa). This slowly building online support is encouraging for our upcoming film festival!

This is a still from one of our films, Living with Stones, which won 2nd place in the Documentary category during WVN's first film festival.

This is a still from one of our films, Living with Stones, which won 2nd place in the Documentary category during WVN’s first film festival.

In the Morning by Danielle Lurie|USA

A film about the incredible sense of shame regarding rape and the resolution sought through honor killing

A film about the incredible sense of shame regarding rape and the resolution sought through honor killing

Please watch a film that earned an Honorable Mention Award during Women’s Voices Now (WVN)’s film festival during 2011: http://vimeo.com/17168668

(2005) When a young Turkish girl is raped, the responsibility of restoring her family’s lost honor is left in the hands of her younger brother – a thirteen-year-old boy. IN THE MORNING premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, screened at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, and has won nine film festivals including ‘Best Narrative Short’ at the Oscar qualifying Nashville Film Festival. IN THE MORNING screened before members of the U.S. Congress, and later screened before members of UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women). – See more at: http://womensvoicesnow.org/watchfilm/in_the_morning#sthash.MbdOflRq.dpuf

All-Day Planning Meeting

I finally met my boss on Monday! It was a fantastic meeting that set a new agenda to create materials for the upcoming film festival Bought and Sold: Voices United Against the Violence. We had to plan outreach for judges, submissions, sponsors, and partners for our Festival.

Working in California is pretty great

Working in California is pretty great

Internship Update

Sorry for the long hiatus! I have been working on research for the upcoming festival before WVN begins work on PR, advertising for submissions, and more for Women Bought and Sold: Voices United Against the Violence, which will discuss sex trafficking, slavery, domestic servitude, and child brides while providing an international platform for activists to showcase both the plight and the relentless struggle of exploited women. These human rights violations have become increasingly common, largely because victims lack support, oppressors are not held accountable, and individuals too often turn a blind eye. WVN hopes to display the role of women in Muslim-majority countries, and of Islam itself, in eradicating such injustices and to develop the extending network committed to achieving equality.

My research topics have included: possible film judges based on the kinds of judges we had last year, possible sponsors based on our current sponsors, and recent data on the sexualized violence in Muslim-majority countries (49, if I’m not mistaken). I’ve also been tweeting for WVN (I get excited when I see likes and retweets). So, I’m afraid there are no wonderful pictures thus far, unless you like pretty Excel sheets! My executive director has been promoting WVN with other interns in Morocco, Israel and the West Bank. You can learn more on our Tumblr.

Also, if you haven’t, please take the time to like our Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

I will have more to discuss when I meet with my executive director, who has recently returned. Thus far, I think the most rewarding aspect to the research that I’ve done is 1) finding all who are dedicated to creating awareness about these grave and prevalent issues and 2) the determination and courage of women living in these countries who not only seek to survive but to change their world and tell their story through art, film, and the power of story. It’s these inspiring aspects of my research that keep me going when my eyes glaze over as I read depressing statistics on trafficking and sexual assault. The data alone cannot explain what is happening in Muslim-majority countries. The women film directors, activists, writers, and artists breathe life and hope into the statistics. Even though the status quo is dire and depressing, hope for a better future is kept alive and made possible by so many women, including Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan. She is addressing the United Nations today to advocate widespread education for children. Malala and so many other women remain an inspiration to me. The coexistence of grave human rights abuses and tremendous leaders in my work reminds me of a quote: “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” (Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer to His Pupil, mid-1800s).

 

Tamadher al Fahal a young artist in Bahrain, creates a ‘zine' where she captures her frustrations at the injustices and inequality she sees against women in the Arab world. Explore an excerpt from her zine, “Diary of a Mad Arabian Woman.” - See more at: http://muslima.imow.org/content/diary-mad-arabian-woman#sthash.Jeu6l1FM.dpuf

Tamadher al Fahal a young artist in Bahrain, creates a ‘zine’ where she captures her frustrations at the injustices and inequality she sees against women in the Arab world. Explore an excerpt from her zine, “Diary of a Mad Arabian Woman.” – See more at: http://muslima.imow.org/content/diary-mad-arabian-woman#sthash.Jeu6l1FM.dpuf

Screening at SOAS

As a beginning project for my internship with WVN, I screened several films from the past WVN film festival at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Student Union in London. I have been studying there as part of my year abroad. The school is incredibly diverse. As I screened the short films in the common room, I noticed many who curiously watched the short films. I spoke with several students and discovered a breadth of interests that connected with the films: a non-Muslim woman interested in issues of gender and religion, a Muslim Indian woman who had made a short film about education, a Muslim woman studying Islamic law, an African woman studying Development, an American man studying International Politics, several British young women studying Arabic and many many more young adults who engaged with the films made by women from Muslim-majority societies. When asked if they were interested in the WVN Mission and seeing more films made by women from Muslim-majority societies, there was a resounding YES each time. Students were aware of the bias found in major news networks and popular films. Many commented on the need for individual and collectively diverse voices from women. This is especially true for women from Muslim-majority societies, which are inaccurately portrayed as one and monolithic culture. The SOAS screening successfully advertised WVN as a new organization and engaged the student body with the films.