International Women’s Day 2020: sparking intergenerational dialogue through movies

It’s time to take stock of progress and bridge the gaps that remain through bold, decisive actions.

This year, in collaboration with the Royal Film Commission, UN Women opened the doors of its Oasis Centers in the Azraq and Za'atari refugee camps to the 8th edition of the Women’s Film Week. Held under the esteemed patronage of HRH Princess Basma bint Talal – UN Women goodwill ambassador, the initiative offered a unique opportunity to Syrian refugees to learn and be inspired by the stories of women champions from the past, as well as the pioneering efforts of new generations of women’ rights advocates around the world.

Over 100 Syrian refugee women engaged in the interactive film screenings which took place on 8 and 9 March 2020 to mark International Women’s Day. The events featured the screening of the movie 'Michaëlle Jean: A Woman of Purpose', generously sponsored by the Embassy of Canada to Jordan, which also sparked an intergenerational dialogue on this’s year theme 'Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights' through the visual artform.

"This documentary reflects the key role women and girls have in achieving positive and innovative change in their communities through small actions" said Ghada Saba, first woman filmmaker in Jordan and Artistic Director of the Women's Film Week.

The film showcases the inspirational journey of Michaëlle Jean to become the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. A historic moment for women's empowerment, not only was she the first black woman to occupy Canada’s highest office, but she also redefined the role beyond its traditional formal functions. Using the arts as a tool for social change, encouraging the voices of people in excluded and marginalized communities, defending the rights of women and Indigenous people, and bringing a message of hope to citizens.

"A refugee woman who made her dream come true! She serves as an inspiration to us in the way she empowered women and children" affirmed Mona Alrefae, a Syrian refugee woman residing in the Za’atari refugee camp.

"When I saw the destruction, I remembered the war and destruction we have lived back in Syria" she continues by recalling the scene in which Michaëlle Jean visits her homeland in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.

After the tear-jerking screening, the women assumed a fighter's stance as they readied themselves for the self-defense training session organized by UN Women as part of the International Women’s Day commemoration. Self-defense trainer and Jordanian Olympic boxing athlete, Dania Natseh led the training, teaching women key defense positions including, staggered stances, wrist holds and escaping 'bear hugs'.

"It's important to teach women these skills! We must know how to defend and empower ourselves" said one participant. Sport can play an important role in empowering women and has a positive impact in terms of self-confidence and self-awareness.

Through its Oasis Centers in both refugee and Jordanian host communities, UN Women providing vulnerable women with livelihood opportunities, paired with protection and education services, while also engaging men and boys in dialogue and mobilization for social equality with the generous support of the Governments of Finland, France, Iceland, Italy and Zonta International Foundation.

Written by
Lauren Rooney
Communications Specialist
UN Women
Lauren Rooney
UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women