Why focus on girls’ education? Once you educate the boys, they often leave the villages and search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass their knowledge onto their own children. If you really want to empower societies, reduce poverty, improve basic hygiene and health care, reduce the population explosion, and fight high rates of infant and maternal mortality, the answer is to educate girls...
Keeping this in mind, SOC Films, spearheaded by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, proudly releases, for the time first time, six short-films created by a few girls part of the flagship programme, ‘Siyaani Saheliyan’. The six-month long collaborative programme with Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) had earlier culminated with a series of film screenings in South Punjab.
With ‘Siyani Sahelian’, SOC Films and ITA aimed to tackle gender inequality for disadvantaged out of school adolescent girls (aged 9-19) in three districts of South Punjab, including Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan [ITA hubs]. SOC Films reached out to over 60 towns and villages including ITA hubs for this programme.
Before the pandemic, SOC Films conducted ‘Storytelling & Filming’ workshops with the students during the programme. The SOC Films team, spearheaded by Safyah Usmani, Murtaza Ali, Sidra Tul Muntaha and Mukarram Khan, spent time teaching students how to create films on mobile phones. The purpose of these workshops was to build the confidence of these girls by training them in filmmaking. The girls were encouraged to tell personal stories, enabling them to have a voice in society. Three hundred and fifteen girls (315) were divided into small groups where they were given a mobile device and asked to conceptualise, shoot and direct short-films, which were later edited at SOC Films. Many of the young women were able to articulate what their lives were like focusing on their hopes and dreams for their villages, towns and for Pakistan. Over 75 short films were created out of the workshops and forty (40) were later exhibited in Muzzaffargarh, Rahimyar Khan and Bhawalpur.
As part of the workshop, SOC Films also showed three films; ‘Freedom Fighters’, ‘Rising Stars’ and ‘Girl in the River’ on its fully equipped Mobile Cinema.
SOC Films has released the following six short-films in March 2020 from the programme: ‘The Lone Warrior’ by the Diamond Group which focused on sexual violence at home; ‘My Fight for Women Rights’ by the Geo Sir Utha Kai Group which highlighted how an incident of gang rape inspired a little girl to become a human rights activist when she grows up; ‘My Mother My Hero’ by the Lucky Group; ‘I will be a Fighter Pilot’ by the Star Group which focused on a girls’ cream of joining the air-force; ‘When I Grow Up’ by the Khwabon Ki Duniya Group which highlighted a girls dream of becoming a doctor; and ‘I Have Confidence’ by the Self-Confidence Group focusing on girls who want to join the police force.
“It is important for girls to have a voice in society. These workshops encouraged hundreds of young girls to articulate their hopes and dreams. It enabled them to learn new skills and for many it was the first time that they had shared how they felt about their place in society. The end result is a window in their lives, the stories range from human rights and abuse to hopeful aspirations and their dreams.” shared Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
“Millions of girls in our society remain marginalised and vulnerable to patriarchal norms, not being able to stand for and fight their rights. Exposure to mobile cinema and taking part in storytelling workshops gave them the agency to express their voice and dreams. We are delighted to have partnered with SOC films and look forward to many more fruitful collaborations to reach millions of girls, giving them power and hope for a better future.” said Baela Raza Jamil, CEO Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aghahi (ITA).
SOC Films hopes to continue to implement sustainable community engagement programmes to positively impact the lives of Pakistani youth. ITA is a public trust constantly striving to promote education as a comprehensive process for human and social transformation.
– Mubashir Ahmed