8 Women’s Rights Documentaries to Watch on Netflix

Photo credit: India’s Daughter.

Storytelling through film — a combination of human interest stories, compelling visuals and an emotional narrative — is becoming increasingly popular among those advocating for human rights, due to its success in putting injustice under a spotlight and giving a platform to those who are usually silenced.

At The Circle, one of our four key goals is to amplify the voices of women and girls, so they can tell their story and we can learn about the issues that they face.

From illegal abortions and the women’s liberation movement in the 60s, to first-hand accounts of girls who have been trafficked, we have selected the top women’s rights documentaries available on Netflix that highlight these issues and provide a much-needed voice to the women of the world.

1. Finding Home, 2014

finding home

Photo credit: Finding Home.

Telling the stories of three brave Cambodian women who were victims of sex trafficking at a young age, Finding Home highlights the difficulties and complexities of learning how to deal with life after horrific abuse by slave owners.

If you’re interested in helping children who have been trafficked, please consider donating to our project to stop child trafficking in Nepal.

2. The Testimony, 2015

testimony

Photo credit: The Testimony.

Chronicling the largest rape trial in Congo’s history, The Testimony takes an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of women standing up and fighting for justice against the soldiers accused of a brutal rampage on their own citizens. A truly moving, yet short, film on the unbreakable strength of the human spirit.

3.Born into Brothels, 2004

born into brothels

Photo credit: Born into Brothels.

This Oscar-winning documentary follows the lives of poverty-stricken children born to prostitutes in Calcutta’s worst slums. Given the opportunity to take up photography and document their own lives, the young boys and girls excel in the face of adversity.

4.India’s Daughter, 2015

NEW DELHI, INDIA -

Photo credit: India’s Daughter.

This haunting but incredibly important documentary recounts the brutal gang rape of medical student Jyoti Singh in 2012 and how, in its wake, the people of India took a stand to start changing the country’s attitudes and laws on gender-based violence.

Our Brave New World project is raising awareness about gender-based violence in rural communities in Chhattisgarh and Odisha, India, and is setting up shelters for women who have survived domestic violence. Click here to learn more about the project

5. #chicagoGirl: The social network takes on a dictator, 2013

#Chicagogirl

Photo credit: #chicagoGirl.

Running an entire Syrian revolution from her bedroom in Chicago, 19-year-old Ala’a Basatneh is an inspiration to everyone wanting to help make a difference in the world. Armed with Facebook, Twitter, Skype and camera phones, she helps her friends on the ground in Syria show the world the human rights atrocities of a dictator, by arranging protests, sending videos to news organisations and smuggling in vital supplies to those in her social network.

6. The True Cost, 2015

true cost 2

Photo credit: The True Cost.

Insightful and heartbreaking, this film looks at the price workers around the world have to pay in order to keep the cost of clothing down. Including footage of the Rana Plaza collapse which killed 1,129 people in 2013, the groundbreaking documentary unravels the unseen world of the fast fashion industry.

The Lawyers Circle recently published Fashion Focus: The Fundamental Right to a Living Wage. This cutting-edge report sets out the arguments to defend the living wage as a fundamental right, and the duties of companies and governments to uphold this right. Please click here to find out more and donate.

7. The Vessel, 2014

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Photo credit: The Vessel.

Horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion laws around the world, activist and doctor Rebecca Gomperts set sail with her project, Women on Waves, to provide legal abortions in offshore waters to those in need. Beginning as a flawed spectacle faced with governmental, religious and military blockades, the doctor transformed what seemed an impossible task into a global movement.

8. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, 2014

she's beautiful when she's angry

Photo credit: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.

Focusing on the women’s liberation movement from 1966 to 1971, the film recounts the stories of women who fought for their own equality and in the process, created a world-wide revolution. Covering topics such as unequal pay, sexual harassment, domestic violence and reproductive rights, it’s an important story that will still resonate for women today.


Singer Annie Lennox Calls for Solidarity to Help Most Vulnerable Women

The Circle featured in Thomson Reuters Foundation News

 

LONDON, June 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The challenges women face in the developing world, such as poor education and healthcare, child marriage and female genital mutilation may seem insurmountable, but change can come through solidarity from women in rich nations, said singer Annie Lennox.

While the disadvantages of women in poor countries are not being addressed, women in rich countries could use their power for good, Lennox said.

“This is how I see feminism, about the empowerment of women,” she told the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in London on Tuesday…

Go to the Thomson Reuters Foundation News website to read more.


Chatterbox: The Social Enterprise Unlocking the Skills of Women Refugees

Patuni, founder Mursal’s mum and the inspiration behind Chatterbox. Photo credit: P. Hedayat.

Shannon Hodge, member of The Circle, meets the women behind Chatterbox, a charity employing refugees as language tutors

An estimated 117,234 refugees have resettled in the UK after fleeing their homes—and countries—due to fear of violence or persecution. Many are highly-qualified professionals who are forced to leave their families and careers—and finding a job here can be challenging.

Wajed Basha, an Arabic school teacher from Syria, has joined a growing number of newly-arrived degree-educated refugees that a new start-up, Chatterbox, has employed to use their language skills to not only benefit the UK’s language skills deficit, but to benefit them too.

Wajed, 31, fled war in Syria almost three years ago and now lives in Wales with her husband and two children, aged 7 and 9. She studied Education at Tishreen University in her hometown of Latakia, Syria, where she went on to work for eight years in primary education before being appointed as a pedagogue in the Educational Directorate in Latakia.

Following the uprising in Syria that descended into a country-wide civil war, over 4.5 million were forced to flee the country—Wajed and her family included.

“Almost three years ago, we fled the war in Syria. There were explosions, bombs and extremists everywhere”, she said.

“My husband came to the UK alone first to seek safety and then later, my children and I joined him by travelling through Lebanon, before arriving at Heathrow, where we were then resettled in Cardiff.”

Describing her initial few months in the UK, Wajed said “It was very difficult at first. I didn’t choose to live so far away from my country so it was hard adapting to a new place, new people, a different culture and, on top of that, a new language”.

This is where Chatterbox—a new language learning service delivered by refugees—comes in…

The London-based start-up works with skilled refugees to provide training, contacts and work experience in the languages sector and helps them rebuild their professional lives using their existing skills, while simultaneously tackling the UK’s language skills deficit, which loses the economy an estimated £48 billion each year.

The initiative is the brainchild of 26-year-old Economics graduate, Mursal Hedayat, who now employs more than thirty tutors; teaching languages from Arabic and Farsi to Swahili and Korean, both online and in person.

Mursal watched her own mother struggle as a refugee when her family fled Afghanistan when she was just four years old. A civil engineer by practice, her mother used her language skills to find meaningful employment in the UK, following her decade-long search for a job.


Founder Mursal with Syrian dentist and Chatterbox Arabic language tutor Eiad. Photo credit: Chatterbox.

“Despite knowing languages such as English, Dari, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi dialect and Pashto, as well as having a highly-trained skill in civil engineering, my mother could only get basic low-skilled work in the UK”, said Mursal.

“Eventually, after ten years of searching, she completed a qualification in teaching so that she could use her language skills to get a job as a classroom language assistant; helping students for whom English wasn’t their first language to access education.

“She then went on to set up a supplementary school to teach core curriculum subjects, as well as Afghan culture, to the Afghan community in the area of London we live in.”

Mursal’s mother’s experience was—and is—shared by many other talented people in the refugee community, and in August 2016 Mursal drew on this inspiration to launch Chatterbox.

“Chatterbox was distinctly designed for the situation of a refugee mother who is having employment troubles and for us it’s important to help these women access work.

“We’re currently over-represented by women, whereas, in other refugee interventions, they really struggle to get women and I think part of that is the flexibility of the work and training we provide, but also the cultural barriers that stop some women from seeking work.”

Wajed agrees with Mursal’s point: “For some female refugees in the UK, it is difficult for them to get the education they need. For me, it is fine—I am a free lady—but some women would like to attend English classes so they can go on to get a job but they can’t. This is because many services helping refugees have mixed-gender classes, which some Muslim women feel uncomfortable attending—or are simply not given permission by their husband.”

With the backing of the SOAS University of London, Chatterbox launched a pilot which ran from January 2017 to May 2017. The pilot was described as a “resounding success” by both students and tutors, with the Nesta innovation foundation awarding Chatterbox £40,000 of funding to further develop the programme.

“With the funding, our aim is to train and build up a team of around 500 refugees by January next year”, said Mursal.

And for many of the current tutors, Chatterbox has been a lifeline—helping them meet new people from all over the world, improve their overall employability and support themselves and their families.

“We came here with no wage, no money, and I only had basic English—but it was not enough. I have worked hard to improve my English over the years and I’m so proud of my progress through working with Chatterbox”, said Wajed.

Discussing her future plans, Wajed said she intends on continuing her career as a teacher and is currently studying at Cardiff and Vale College, where she has been offered a Level 2 Support Teaching and Learning Course which she plans to complete in the next year.

“It’s also a long-term goal of mine to complete a master’s”, she laughs: “I am very ambitious!”

And it appears the ambition is contagious at Chatterbox HQ, with a growing female refugee community including Jihyun, a maths teacher and human rights activist from North Korea, and Sudanese human rights and women’s rights lawyer Hekma, who is currently deciding on which of her many UK university offers to choose from.


Sudanese human rights lawyer and Chatterbox Arabic language tutor Hekma. Photo credit: Chatterbox.

Mursal concluded: “A really important part of the progress that Chatterbox has made comes from the fact that I have an intimate knowledge and understanding of what my mum went through. I was in the front seat of that and not only has that propelled and created a real drive within the organisation but that sort of level of insight into a problem will lead to better solutions ultimately.

“I’d encourage all charities and social enterprises to develop solutions for refugees by engaging with them and create and develop solutions with them, rather than for them.

“Let them be the leaders and creators of their own change.”

One of The Circle’s objectives is to amplify the voices of women who are often silenced or forgotten. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook and don’t miss future interviews with inspiring women who are making a difference.

The Circle supports a broad range of projects that help women to become independent and confident, able to stand up for their rights and influence change.

If you’d like to become a member of The Circle, please click here.


@shanhodge
Shannon Hodge is a Journalism graduate and a member of The Circle.


Who is a Refugee? 8 Things You Should Know about the Refugee Crisis

Image credit: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times.

“Imagine living in a refugee camp where you are too scared to go the toilet, or being subjected to sexual harassment on a daily basis in your host community because of your gender or identity. This is the terrifying reality for hundreds of thousands of women and girls and LGBTI refugees around the world, and the shameful inaction of wealthy governments is prolonging it.”

These are the words of Catherine Murphy, Acting Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme at Amnesty International. In the run up to Refugee Week—19-25 June—, at The Circle we will try to address some of the misconceptions surrounding the refugee crisis, in particular trying to put a spotlight on the challenges and dangers faced by women and girls when leaving their home countries.

1. Who is a refugee?

According to UNHCR, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country due to fear of violence or persecution. They most likely cannot return home because of war, or ethnic, tribal or religious violence or persecution. Refugee status entitles someone to legal protection and material assistance. States are required to protect refugees and not send them to countries where they risk violence or persecution.

2. Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone in the process of applying to be recognised as a refugee.

3. Is it easy to claim asylum?

The short answer is no.

Claiming asylum can be a complex process that can take many months. Asylum seekers have to prove to their potential host state that going back to their home country would put them at risk of persecution “for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. And even then, many applications aren’t successful—in 2015, 64% of initial asylum applications were refused in the UK.

Around 50% of asylum seekers are detained in Immigration Removal Centres while they await the decision on their refugee application.

4. Who is an economic migrant?

Someone who moves to another country driven by poor working or living conditions in their country of origin.

5. What is the refugee crisis?

In the past two years, Europe has experienced the largest movement of people since the Second World War. Around 1.3 million people claimed asylum in the EU in 2015 and a further 1.3 million in 2016, but the number of people who have been granted refugee status is much lower – approximately 292,000 in 2015 and 366,000 in 2016 (although the process of applying for asylum is long and those granted asylum may have applied in previous years).

Most asylum seekers have fled war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, but many others come from Kosovo, Albania, Pakistan and Eritrea.

6. Is the refugee crisis over? Why isn’t it in the media as much as it used to be?

It would indeed seem the refugee crisis is slipping out of mainstream consciousness. Although the number of refugees entering Europe peaked in 2015 (at 1.5 million), and the number of refugees arriving continues to decrease, over 70,000 people have entered Europe via the Mediterranean so far in 2017.

In addition to this, a number of interesting conclusions were drawn at a UNESCO conference on media and migration, which could help to explain the treatment of the crisis by the media. Firstly, journalists often misuse terms such as refugee and migrant. Some also fail to synthesise political rhetoric, leading to misleading and untrue stories, and there is failure to contextualise stories within the context of the refugee crisis.

According to Dr. Guita Hourani, Director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Centre at Notre Dame University, this comes down to a lack of training. Experts at the UNESCO conference agreed that newsrooms lack the means and support to be able to cover the crisis appropriately.

7. The situation in 2017

As of 30 May 2017, in the EU there have been:

• 124,000 applications for asylum
• 70,877 arrivals by Mediterranean sea (of which 11% are women; 16.5% are children)
• 1,729 dead and missing in the Mediterranean

8. Some of the issues that women migrants and refugees face

Most refugees worldwide are hosted by developing countries; nearly 500,000 people currently live in refugee camps across Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon—camps which can be highly dangerous for women. They often face sexual assault and violence when collecting firewood for cooking and when walking through poorly lit camps to use the toilet at night.

In addition to that, women do not have access to clinics they need in order to ensure their sexual health and their health during pregnancy. 15% of women fleeing conflict while pregnant are likely to face a life-threatening obstetric complication, with aid rarely to be found.

We’d like to hear about women-led projects helping refugees and of course stories from women refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. If you’d like to share your story with us, email us at hello@thecircle.ngo.