'Stories of Change': Women as agents of social transformation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 14, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 14, 2008

'Stories of Change': Women as agents of social transformation


Scenes from the documentary.

The finale of Stories of Change, a documentary film by Kamar Ahmad Simon and Sara Afreen, was greeted with warm applause on July 11, at the British Council.
The film, produced by Pathways of Women's Empowerment and Research Programme in collaboration with BEGINNING, a film and communication studio, reveals that while women may struggle to find self-identity, the hurdles on the way are shared by many of them. The audience comprised of Pathways' researchers, the production team, entrepreneurs, and all others drawn to the topic.
One the way, the viewer encounters women like Champa Chakma from Rangamati who are chastised for pursuing careers traditionally believed to be better suited to men. A successful 16-year-old spin bowler for the Bangladesh National Women's Cricket Team, Champa must still cope with village gossip circulated by critics appalled with the idea of a girl spending her days playing sports. Similarly Bilkish Akther Sumi, a 29-year-old journalist from Sylhet, had to trounce the barriers placed upon her by local mullahs, outraged that a woman would cover their events.
One also meets women who seek to better the lives of the disadvantaged by using their own resources. There is, for instance the 22-year-old Dipaly Goala, a school teacher and field worker from Sylhet, whose mission it is to educate the young and delivering the qualms of the local tea labourers to the Union. Like her, Begum Royeka, a 60-year-old social activist, set up her own organisation to educate and empower women and girls in Netrokona.
Then there is Kamala Rani Ray, a 32-year-old goldsmith from Sirajganj. This intrepid woman, the breadwinner of her family of five, keeps burglars away at night and leads a life deemed unconventional by traditional standards.
The focus on these five women gives the film a powerful dimension. From a 16-year-old to a 60 year-old, one can see quite clearly that the path to empowerment differs for every woman.
Director Kamar Ahmad Simon and executive producer Sara Afreen, both trained architects, accentuate the visual appeal of the film by using innovative techniques and paying attention to minute details. On the way, the film allows the audience to empathise with each woman.
Pathways of Women's Empowerment and Research Programme is a five- year -international project that seeks to analyse the pathways of women's empowerment. The programme is based in BRAC Institute of BRAC University. The film was a product of research carried out by this project.

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