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Women's Studies

Women's Rights


~ Women In China
~ Education In China
~ Universities In China
~ China's "One-Child" Policy

The communist revolution gave women theoretical equality, but centuries-old oppressions still persist. Women have suffered through the "one child" policy. But women are now among China's top entrepreneurs.

"ONE CHILD" POLICY China's coercive policy of forbidding more than one child has had a cruel effect on China's women. The policy is now being relaxed ¡V but some women are happy with one child.

SUICIDE WATCH China is the only country where the suicide rate is higher among women than men ¡V experts say this may be down to the low status of rural women. Can educ

ation help? "EDUCATION COMES FIRST" Language professor Wu Quing runs a vocational school for young rural women. "It's a man's world ¡V but change rural women and you will change China."

"THE STUDIES ARE DEMANDING" Architectural student Ghuan Zhaoyu is one of China's growing university population. She wants to study abroad but, as an only child, she has to think of her parents.

DVD / 2014 / () / 26 minutes

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Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for being outspoken about her country's education system. The Pakistani government spends seven times more on its military than on education and banned girls from attending school. Pakistan's literacy rate is among the lowest in the world, with the number of school aged children who don't attend school is second highest globally.

Malala survived and is now the youngest person to ever be awarded the Nobel peace Prize for her activism for female education. This is the story of Malala's fight for a right to education and freedom.

DVD / 2014 / (Junior High, Senior High, College) / 60 minutes

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By Anneta Papathanassiou

In Afghanistan, women deciding to be actors make a dangerous choice. Banned under Taliban rule (1994-2001), Afghan theater is experiencing a comeback with many women at the forefront. But with powerful forces of Islamic fundamentalism, a resurgent Taliban, and patriarchal traditions in play, actresses often face the harshest criticism and are even sometimes viewed as prostitutes. Socially ostracized, and pressured to abandon their careers, they receive beatings and death threats for them and their family. Some are forced to flee the country and some are even killed.

PLAYING WITH FIRE introduces us to six courageous Afghan women who share their passions for acting, dreams, and difficult realities. They include Sajida, a student targeted by extremists; Monirah, besieged co-founder of an innovative women's theater troupe; Tahera, forced into exile because of award-winning work at a theater festival; Roya, whose TV career brings her constant harassment; and Leena and Breshna, unprotected by their stage and motion picture fame.

Filmmaker Anneta Papathanssiou exposes pervasive erosions of Afghan women's rights. Her timely, eye-opening documentary perfectly captures art's transformative power and the dangers these courageous women face to do the work they love.

DVD (Afghan (Dari), German, Color) / 2014 / () / 58 minutes

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By Nikolina Gillgren, Johan Sandstrom

This inspiring documentary which follows three brave human rights defenders in Liberia, Abkhazia, Georgia and Iraq over six days, gives insight into the everyday struggle to improve the situation of women worldwide. SIX DAYS shines a necessary light on some of the most urgent and important human rights issues facing women today: girls education, honor killings, bride kidnappings and women's health issues.

Giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burned and threatened with death by their families, journalist Lanja, fearlessly challenges honor killings and domestic violence in Iraq's Kurdish region. Nelly runs a cooperative and shelter in Monrovia, Liberia's slums so that impoverished women can learn to read and earn money for their families. And in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, Maia, director of a women's health group fighting for women's sexual rights, brings medical care to women and girls in remote Caucasus villages while battling "bride kidnappings" and other archaic customs that lead to forced marriage.

As it follows these three remarkable women, thousands of miles apart, SIX DAYS bears witness to their unwavering, shared commitment to women's education, empowerment and dreams of a better life. An important film for those who wish to understand the challenges facing women in developing countries around the world and how feminism continues to help improve womens' lives.

DVD (Abkhaz, Sorani Kurdish, Mengrelian, Color) / 2013 / () / 56 minutes

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Despite the progress of the international women's movement in exposing and correcting human rights abuses against females, in many countries women are still fighting to attain the most basic of civil liberties. This program contextualizes that struggle by comparing women's rights in the U.S. with the status of women in China, Afghanistan, and Kenya. Hopeful signs such as rising levels of education for girls, female representation in government, and business opportunities for women are contrasted with the continuing practice of age -old antithetical abuses that have yet to be eliminated - nonconsensual marriage and severe domestic violence, to name two - and the demoralizing effect of seeing hard -won rights overturned. Some content may be objectionable.

DVD / 2010 / () / 26 minutes

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By Elizabeth Tadic

UMOJA (Kiswahili for "unity") tells the life-changing story of a group of impoverished tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya who turn age-old patriarchy on its head by setting up a women-only village. Their story began in the 1990s, when several hundred women accused British soldiers from a nearby military base of rape. In keeping with traditional Samburu customs, the women were blamed for this abuse and cast out by their husbands for bringing shame to their families.

Learning of their plight, Rebecca Lolosoli, a tireless women's rights advocate, helps the banished women establish a new village, Umoja, on an unoccupied field in the grass-lands. No men are allowed. Soon the women turn their fate around, launching a handicrafts business targeting the tourist trade. Their success and increasing fame incurs the men's jealousy and wrath, setting off an unusual, occasionally hilarious, gender war. But in this award-winning documentary, which deftly blends fast-paced reportage with serious social critique, women who have reclaimed their lives clearly emerge the victors.

DVD (Samburu, Color) / 2010 / () / 32 minutes

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By Binnur Karaevli

Can Islamic values co-exist with full equality for women? VOICES UNVEILED examines this timely issue through portraits of three women pursuing life paths and careers of their own choosing in present-day Turkey.

Each has defied social expectations in a democratic, secular nation where religious fundamentalism has re-emerged as a political force and patriarchal values still prevail. Well-known textile artist Belkis Belpinar, whose work combines science and kilim rug traditions, resisted her father's wishes that she study engineering. Dancer and psychologist Banu Yucelar braved family opposition to modern dance, widely perceived as a form of prostitution. Women's rights activist Nur Bakata Mardin helps women in underserved communities, where old beliefs hold sway, form small business cooperatives.

As engaging as its subjects, VOICES UNVEILED punctuates its in-depth portraits with insights from other Turks and lively discussions that include intergenerational debates over veiling. The film is a valuable companion to WOMEN OF TURKEY, which offers a different take on gender roles that embrace modern lifestyles and Islamic culture.

DVD (Color) / 2010 / () / 69 minutes

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By Brittany Huckabee

THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN follows one woman's crusade against extremism in her West Virginia mosque, throwing the community into turmoil and raising questions that cut to the heart of American Islam. When former Wall Street Journal journalist and single mother Asra Q. Nomani returns from working in Pakistan to her hometown mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia, she believes she sees signs of trouble: exclusion of women, intolerance toward non-believers, and suspicion of the West. She finds such signs particularly alarming and determined to halt the 'slippery slope' that she maintains leads from Islamic intolerance to violence, she begins a campaign to drag the mosque's practices into the 21st century, triggering a heated battle between tradition and modernity. Nomani's activist tactics alienate would-be allies in the mosque, leading many to wonder who most deserves the label of "extremist." Director Brittany Huckabee takes a balanced view of the tensions dividing this community, exploring both sides from a neutral standpoint. This riveting Emmy Award nominated film is not only about women's rights in the mosque but about the struggles of a Muslim community faces as it strives to be a part of American life.

DVD (Color) / 2009 / () / 54 minutes

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By Ilse van Velzen & Femke van Velzen

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's seven year war was the deadliest ever recorded in Africa. During that time, more than 80,000 women and girls were raped. Only now that the country is formally at peace are the consequences of the brutality becoming truly visible. Rape is slowly seeping into everyday life.

FIGHTING THE SILENCE tells the story of ordinary Congolese women and men that are struggling to change their society: one that prefers to blame victims rather than prosecute rapists. Rape survivors and their families speak out openly about the suffering they endured because their culture considers women second class citizens and rape a taboo. They give voice to thousands of other survivors and their families who have chosen to hide their grief and remain silent for fear of being rejected by their families and community.

Girls and women survivors tell of the brutality they experienced. Married couples openly talk about the pain they endure. Husbands talk of the pressures that led them to abandon their wives and why they agreed to take them back. A father explains why he has given up on his daughter's future and how he wishes he could afford to take her rapist to court. Soldiers and policemen share their (shocking) views about why rape continues to flourish despite the war having officially ended four years ago.

DVD (French, Color) / 2007 / () / 53 minutes

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By Nahid Persson

From Nahid Persson, the filmmaker of the award-winning Prostitution Behind the Veil, comes an intimate portrait of a polygamist family in a rural Iranian village. Persson reveals the intricacies of the relationships between the four wives, their husband, their astoundingly free-spoken mother-in-law and their numerous children. Sometimes humorous and often heartbreaking, this film follows the daily lives of the wives whose situation has turned them into both bitter rivals and co-conspirators against their abusive husband.

Persson's camera unobtrusively and beautifully captures the range of the family's interactions ¡V from peaceful, pastoral scenes of a family picnic, to the temporary chaos caused by a broken faucet in the kitchen, to a furtive, whispered conversation between two wives about the latest beating. The women's work ¡V making bread, weaving carpets, milking and herding the sheep ¡V provide the background to their frank conversations. Avoiding sensationalism and sentimentality, this film provides unique insights into the practice of polygamy and its effect on the women involved.

DVD (Persian, Color) / 2007 / () / 76 minutes

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Islamic societies are generally known for their restrictions on women's rights and freedoms. For example, polygamy, honor killings and the enforcement of wearing the Hijab and Chador. Since all cultural traits are created because of social needs in the region, is it right for outsiders to judge this practice? How do people currently living in the region accept these customs? What do today's Islamic women think of these traditions? What is the image of Islamic women in this ever-changing world?

DVD / 2007 / (Senior High, College) / 48 minutes

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By Elli Safari

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud shocked the Islamic world by leading a mixed-gender Friday prayer congregation in New York. THE NOBLE STRUGGLE OF AMINA WADUD is a fascinating and powerful portrait of this African-American Muslim woman who soon found herself the subject of much debate and Muslim juristic discourse. In defying 1400 years of Islamic tradition, her action caused global awareness of the struggle for women's rights within Islam but also brought violence and death threats against her.

Filmmaker Safari follows this women's rights activist and scholar around the world as she quietly but with utter conviction explains her analysis of Islam in the classroom, at conferences, in her home, and in the hair dresser's shop. Wadud explains how Islam, with its promise of justice, appeals to the African American community. And she links the struggle for racial justice with the need for gender equality in Islam. Deeply engaging, this film offers rare insights into the powerful connections between Islam, women's rights, and racial justice.

DVD (Color) / 2007 / () / 29 minutes

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By Bregtje van der Haak

In Saudi Arabia, one of the most religiously conservative societies in the Middle East, women are not allowed to vote or to drive a car. Men and women are segregated in most public spaces and work environments. A strict dress code enforced by religious police mandates that women cover their heads and bodies in public, where they must always be accompanied by a husband or other male guardian.

In SAUDI SOLUTIONS, filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak, the first Western filmmaker ever granted permission to film the lives of Saudi women, takes us inside this closed society where fewer than five percent of women work. She profiles several women with professional careers¡Xincluding a journalist, a doctor, a photographer, a television newsreader, a university professor, and the nation's first female airplane pilot-and asks them to explain what it means to be a modern woman in a fundamentalist Islamic society.

In an interview with Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holding Company and fifth richest man in the world, SAUDI SOLUTIONS finds an isolated enclave of progressive attitudes toward women. In his office building and private palace, half of the employees are women, who are unveiled and dressed in the latest fashions, although "the ladies" work, he emphasizes, in an "Islamically correct" environment.

In discussing their everyday lives and concerns, the women are surprisingly defensive of Saudi social customs, arguing that, while they see the desirability of gradual social reform, they see no conflict between Islamic law and the rights of women. They are especially resistant to Western pressures to abandon their value system for one imposed on them from outside.

In offering Western audiences a fascinating and often shocking look at the social status of women in Saudi Arabia, SAUDI SOLUTIONS also reveals that while Saudi society may be one in transition, involving a delicate balance between religious tradition and modernizing influences, the pace of change will be dictated by the Saudis themselves.

DVD (Color) / 2006 / () / 77 minutes

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Directed by Saeeda Khanum

Domestic violence in all forms¡Xfrom physical abuse to forced marriages to honour killings¡Xcontinues to be frighteningly common worldwide and accepted as "normal" within too many societies. Getting to the heart of current multicultural debates, LOVE, HONOUR, & DISOBEY reveals the issues around domestic violence in Britain's black and ethnic minority communities through the eyes of the Southall Black Sisters, a small group of women who have been working to combat abuse for more than 25 years.

This powerful documentary combines chilling testimony from those abused with a forceful analysis of the issues that make domestic violence an even more difficult experience for minority women, who generally wait longer to report abuse and seek help. Also astutely examined are the roles of culturally sensitive policing, religious fundamentalism and the attitudes of minority communities themselves in continuing to endanger the lives of many women. This important film is essential viewing for those who wish to further their understanding of domestic violence within ethnic minority communities, including teachers, social workers, police, lawyers, health workers and other professionals working in this realm.

DVD (Color) / 2005 / () / 61 minutes

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Explores the international movement for women's rights.

In 1994, 179 government leaders attending the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development signed a groundbreaking agreement aimed at improving the lives of women worldwide. Balancing Acts -- the first in a duo of Life programs made in collaboration with women broadcasters and producers around the world to mark the 10th anniversary of that conference -- explores how women from very different cultures, often faced with extremes of inequality, are taking on the status quo. Individual stories look at how Afghani women refugees are returning to pick up the pieces of their lives in Kabul; the feisty female entrepreneurs of Nigeria known as "Mama Benz" who, despite owning an estimated 50 per cent of the country's small businesses, are denied recognition of their contribution to the economy; a teenager battling purdah to get an education in Pakistan; and the "inherited widows" who are challenging convention in Kenya. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, provides an overview of the state of women's rights worldwide-and why they are so crucial to social and economic development.

DVD (Color) / 2004 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 23 minutes

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International efforts to assure reproductive health and rights conflict with cultural realities in the Philippines, Latvia, Japan, and India.

Holding Our Ground focuses on one of the most contested of the agreements hammered out in Cairo: reproductive rights. The right of both women and men to decide freely if and when to get married, and if, when and how often to have children, was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over 50 years ago. But 10 years after the Cairo agreement, it's still far from universally acknowledged. The program features reports from: the Philippines, now at the epicenter of the battle over efforts to restrict information on, and access to, family planning; Latvia, where taboos surrounding the subject of sex still hamper efforts to provide information for adolescents; Japan, where the falling birthrate is focusing attention again on the problems of childcare for working women; and finally India, where-despite laws designed to protect the girl child-the practice of female infanticide, and its horrendous repercussions, appears to be growing. Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, describes why reproductive health and rights are critical for development worldwide.

DVD (Color) / 2004 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 23 minutes

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By Brigitte Brault & Aina Women Filming Group

Filmed by the first ever team of women video journalists trained in Afghanistan, this rare and uncompromising film explores the effects of the Taliban's repressive rule and recent U.S.-sponsored bombing campaign on Afghani women. None of the fourteen journalist trainees had ever traveled outside Kabul. Except for one, none had been able to study or pursue careers while the Taliban controlled their country.

Leaving Kabul behind for the more rural regions of the country, the filmmakers present heartbreaking footage of Hazara women whose lives have been decimated by recent events. With little food and no water or electricity, these women have been left to live in caves and fend for themselves, abandoned in the wake of the U.S. invasion. While committed to revealing such tragedies to the world, the filmmakers also manage to find moving examples of hope for the future. A poetic journey of self-discovery, Afghanistan Unveiled is a revelatory and profound reminder of the independent media's power to bear witness and reveal truth.

DVD (French, Color) / 2003 / () / 52 minutes

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By Velcrow Ripper

Afghanistan through Women's Eyes offers an intimate portrait of Afghanistan's silenced women as we see the conflict and history of Afghanistan through their eyes. The film visits the secret schools, orphanages and clinics of RAWA, the Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association, a feminist group that has been working both inside and outside of Afghanistan for many years, struggling for women's rights. Their revolution is through ideas, education and health, and they will not let their voices go unheard.

DVD (Region 1) / 2002 / (Grades 9-Adult) / 20 minutes

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Directed by Ayfer Ergun

"I wouldn't dream of trusting my family." - Anita

In Pakistan, many women who decide to leave abusive marriages are signing their own death warrants. They risk being disfigured or murdered by men who believe it is the only way to restore honor to the family.

Authorities in Pakistan rarely respond to reports of honor killing. The Human Rights Commission Pakistan and the Women Action Forum estimate that 1000 women are murdered each year, with little or no response from the government.

At the Dastak women's shelter in Lahore, women accused of tarnishing the family honor find a safe haven. Here, in this tidy building with a well-kept lawn, they live in safety, receiving both counseling and legal advice.

Kubra is one such woman. After enduring repeated beatings, the 28-year-old fled to Dastak. We meet Kubra - armed guard in tow - on her way to a meeting with members of her family. They entreat her to return. Eventually, she agrees. Three weeks later, she is murdered, shot to death in her sleep.

Through Kubra's story, and the stories of other women at Dastak, the film creates a portrait of one institution that is protecting Pakistani women, at least the women who can make it there.

DVD (Color) / 2002 / () / 50 minutes

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Examines progress in women's rights globally.

This product looks at progress in achieving greater equality for women -- five years after the Beijing Conference on Women. Government delegations in Beijing pledged themselves to tackle increasing violence against women. But in South Africa, the police and judiciary still don't regard rape and domestic violence as serious crimes -- with only one in 20 rapists receiving a conviction, and the punishment for wife-killing equal to that of fraud.

In Lithuania, violence takes a more subtle form, with economic hardship forcing many young women into the hands of unscrupulous traffickers who sell women into the sex industry in Europe and the Far East.

This program also analyzes the soaring rate of teenage pregnancies in Scotland, while aging populations in Brazil and the UK mean that more and more old people live out the final years of their lives in poverty.

DVD (Color) / 2000 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 24 minutes

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The odds are against girls getting an education in Zimbabwe and throughout much of Africa.

Twelve-year old Lucia's dream is to be able to graduate to secondary school, and stay there-to finish the 12th grade and go on to train as a pilot. Her older sister Barita wants to do computer studies. And Portia, the youngest in the family, wants to be a dressmaker.

But tragically for these three sisters from one of Zimbabwe's large scale commercial farms, in tobacco country 50 miles outside Harare, they're more likely to end up -- as their mothers before them -- with no formal education, working as seasonal laborers on the farm. The three sisters are AIDS orphans being brought up by their grandmother. She can only afford school fees for one girl, Lucia, to attend primary school.

Across Africa, the odds are dramatically against girls getting an education. And even if they do attend primary school, they're often withdrawn before they finish -- to work as unpaid laborers for their extended family, to be married off or to have children. Only one in four school age girls in Burkina Faso ever attends school.

Across the continent only 24 percent of girls actually complete primary school, compared to 65-70% for boys. As Harry Sawyer, Minister for Education in Ghana, wrote in a recent UNICEF report, the obstacles to girls' education are the same as those that undermine economic and social development everywhere "but in the end, all the reasons add up to one: insufficient will."

DVD (Color) / 2000 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 24 minutes

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Kurdish women fight for their rights in Northern Iraq.

It's autumn in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq -- and the wedding season is coming to an end. Marriage for most Kurdish brides promises freedom and respectability. But for others, it can bring isolation, cruelty and even death.

This Life program explores how oppression of the minority Kurds in the disputed enclave of north Iraq has unleashed a chain of violence -- often directed at the weakest members of Kurdish society: its women.

A former doctor, Nasik gave up her career to run a shelter for women living under threat of death from their families. "Till now," she says, "hundreds of women have been killed in Iraqi Kurdistan simply because they fell in love, or because they demanded their basic rights -- such as the right to divorce or to be treated as a human being, to go outdoors, to be free to talk to other men."

Beyan is a lawyer fighting to change the laws on justice for women. "A lot of people treat honor like capital," she explains, "and for them, their capital is women and should be guarded closely."

Ironically, one area of Kurdish life where women are most free is the government-backed Peshmerga Force of women soldiers. 31-year-old Rezan, their commander, spent two years in Iraqi prisons, and lost both her brother and fiance to Saddam Hussein's forces. Now she teaches her young recruits to stand up for their rights. "Young women should be active players in tomorrow's society," she says. "I teach them how to look after themselves."

DVD (Color) / 2000 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 24 minutes

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Women are denied human rights in Ethiopia and northern Nigeria.

Nibret is eleven -- and they're marrying her off to a man she's never met. Forced marriage isn't unusual in northern Ethiopia. It helps to cement ties between families and establish land rights. Besides, claim Ethiopian scholars, there are no schools for young women, so why not marry them off early?

It's a view shared by some Islamic leaders in northern Nigeria. They believe women's role is to comfort men, and see nothing wrong with marrying girls as young as seven, often in polygamous marriages.

This program reports on the dissonant voices arguing for change in local cultures -- and the calls for reproductive health care and primary education for women. Does widespread discrimination and violence against women now constitute a violation of human rights on a massive scale?

DVD (Color) / 2000 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 24 minutes

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Kate Douglas Wiggin (author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm) argues against votes for women; Progressive and suffrage writer, speaker, and leader Belle Case La Follette testifies in favor.

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / / () / 17 minutes

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