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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day

Edna Adan stand outside of her maternity hospital via NYT
First and foremost, Happy International Women's Day! It is inspiring to see countless stories of strong, brave, and wonderful women posted across all social media platforms. I am grateful to be born into a generation that is taking a critical look at how we treat half of the world's population.

With my excitement comes some necessary caution. Much of the documentary world has zoned into the importance of a girl in a community. Documentaries like Girl Rising and Half of the Sky draw attention to the difficult lives that many young women are forced to endure. Female gentile multination, child brides, lack of education, human trafficking, and assault are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing structural inequalities in communities across the world. Young women everywhere deserve to know their worth and their power, but I want to make sure that western voices (including my own) don't dominate the story. Especially the story that western voices have penned - that of a struggling girl in an undeveloped country whose only savior is the west. We should be cautious of applying western ideologies to different cultures.

I'll admit, I haven't had the chance to watch these documentaries and my judgements are based solely on their trailers and what I've read. I don't doubt their importance or cinematic contributions, and I believe that their production teams have nothing short of the best intentions. I applaud these creators for realizing that you can’t solve the worlds problem with removing one man from power (cc Kony 2012). These documentaries have highlighted the cultural complexities in other countries, but I want to challenge filmmakers and the public alike to take a step further and acknowledge their western bias. Let’s stop looking at Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe as problems to be solved, or that their problems need “western solutions” (Mwenda). For every movie made and story told, there are thousands of activists and workers who will never be featured in a documentary. S/he will never be the subject of a blog or make it to an awards ceremony. But they will continue to work and labor for a better community for themselves and generations to come.

Today, I salute these workers on International Women’s Day. I praise individuals like maternal-health activist Edna Adan of Somaliland featured in Half the Sky.

Don't miss these International Women Day's Stories:

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