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I.M.O.W. Team

Women's Empowerment Collection

Social and Economic Change on Film

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ITVS Community Classroom / Directed by Rodrigo Vazquez / Produced by Don Edkins and Mette Heide

Waiting for the Revolution
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) was created by the U.S. Congress more than 18 years ago to bring underrepresented voices to public television. ITVS is now global - funding independent producers from the U.S. and around the world to tell authentic stories from communities rarely seen in mainstream media. The Women's Empowerment Collection is a free resource for educators, NGOs and community organizations that features four films about remarkable women from Bolivia, Kenya, Israel and Egypt. The film modules come with lesson plans and activities to spark further conversation and investigation, and connect viewers more deeply to the issues in the films.
In the Women’s Empowerment documentary module collection, viewers will glimpse into the lives of four remarkable women around the world, all confronting diverse and universal challenges that call them to action. These stories, all funded by the Independent Television Service and created from feature-length documentary films, raise provocative questions about what it takes to fight for social and economic change against extreme obstacles. These short-modules are powerful tools for sparking dialogue, deepening studies and inspiring action.

Taking Root tells the story of Wangari Maathai, the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The film examines her personal philosophy, her leadership of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement and her ability to empower rural women to mobilize around Kenya’s issues of dwindling natural resources, widespread poverty and oppressive government practices. The clip below shows how Maathai teaches Kenya’s most marginalized citizens about the interconnectedness of the country’s history and current lack of resources, and as a result inspires a legion of environmental champions.

The clip from Waiting for the Revolution introduces Jiovana Nava, a newly elected delegate to indigenous leader Evo Morales’ revolutionary government in Bolivia. Voted into office by the poor women from the labor organization PLANE, Nava soon finds that her hard-won political power comes with its own burdens. Faced with indifference from her male colleagues in Parliament, and disillusionment from within her own party, she struggles to secure promised jobs and housing for the PLANE women. This film shines light on the precarious economic reality of indigenous women in Bolivia, and the fragility of Bolivia’s fledgling democracy.

The collection features modules from two other compelling films. Shadya examines a fiercely independent young Arab-Israeli woman as she stands up to her family and tradition to become a national Karate champion. We’re Watching You tells the story of a group of three courageous women who form a watchdog organization to monitor the 2005 elections in Egypt; the first multi-party elections in 25 years. 

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