Empowering Girls

17.10.2017

Another amazing documentary presented In Viscult 2017 is called The Girls' Club. We interviewed Stefania Donaera, the director, and learned more about women's rights in Africa. 

1. How did you come up with the idea of making a film about this exact primary school of Chicunguluine?

My main interest as an activist and director is women’s rights and also my previous works there about women. The first one, Francilene, was film in North east Brasil in a community of women living of substantive agriculture and fighting for the right to land. The second one, Wayward and stubborn was filmed in Bangladesh and it’s about acid survivors, women who have suffered from acid attack, used mainly by men against women to disfigure the victim.

Traveling in Africa I came across the girls’ clubs, which is a methodology to empower girls by addressing underlying gender inequalities both in school and in the community and I was so impressed by how effective and transformative it is.

2. Was it hard to get the women to share their story?

I got to know the community through a local and international NGO, ActionAid, which has been working in that area for the last 12 years so the trust was easily established. I’ve also learned in time how to approach people and explain the respect I have for them either as a group and as single people. Since I speak Portuguese in this case I could have a direct relationship with the girls and their families

3. Do you know what the reception has been like in Mozambique? What did the male audience think of the film?

The young protagonists were really amused by the result. Seeing themselves in a video for the first time was the most exciting thing for them. The reflection on the contents will come with time and with the matron who coordinates the groups. The groups are also attended by boys and the families of the girls are often involved in the meeting to facilitate the process of empowerment of the girls so they were not particularly surprised about the declarations given in the documentary

4. Do you know if the local government is making an effort to battle the problem and improving the state of women?

Especially in the countryside it takes time to shift people’s minds and their approach to life, so one thing is changing the legal framework about women’s rights and the other is a real improvement in the life conditions of women and girls

5. Can you tell the most important thing you learned from the people you filmed? Has your view on something changed during the project?

Seeing the enthusiasm of the girls and how they respond to the smallest investment of time and resources when it comes to having better chances and real opportunities to be protagonist of their lives is always a strong lesson for me, to appreciate the freedom I’ve been given and to keep on promoting my works to contribute to this kind of processes of empowerment.

(The Girls' Club, 27th of October, Joensuu Science Park)