African Women, Cinema and Development: Gendered strategies of empowerment
"How can we use the media to transmit information and to communicate so that people can acquire knowledge in all spheres of development?" Burkinabé Valerie Kaboré asked this question during our 1997 interview*. Her multiple duties as filmmaker, researcher in media and development and general director of the production company, Media 2000 highlights the enduring relevance of this inquiry.
Critical perspectives consider how African women's contributions in cinema, visual media and screen culture through pedagogy for mass communication and consciousness-raising are directly related to African development.
In Valerie Kaboré's view, women as filmmakers may play a direct role towards this objective as each woman aims her camera towards the area of awareness-building contributing in her own way to the development of the continent.
Similarly, Chadian Zara Mahamat Yacoub* notes that promoting women's participation in the audiovisual sector, and communications in general, is critical to their ability to fully participate in the development process and in so doing, it offers an efficient means to facilitate women's development in society.
Also, the Africa Women Filmmakers Trust, created in 1992 by founding members Tendai Munawa, Rebecca Kapenzi and Chido Matewa, works to advance gender equality and justice through the use of information and communication technologies by facilitating content production and dissemination that supports girls, women and disadvantaged communities to take informed choices.
Kenyan Wajuhi Kamau* who produced video educational materials at the Film Production Department of the Educational Media Service of the Minister of Education, emphasised the effectiveness of the visual media as a means of educating people about a range of issues, from AIDS to family planning. Using both the documentary and drama presentations, the objective of the agency is to allow people to see themselves reflected in the images. Seeing a reflection of oneself, ones own situation, easily resonates, facilitating changes in attitude and behavior.
Hence, positive images of women in the media and equality in representation of women in policy-making positions in the African media have a direct impact on the overall empowerment of women.
Following is a selection of articles from the African Women in Cinema Blog highlighting gender, visual media and development initiatives, many of which focus on the topics of women and empowerment, calling attention to economic, social and cultural development from the perspective of women.
The Africa Women Filmmakers Trust (AWFT): Using participatory media in development communication
Lucy Gebre-Egziabher: A Woman on a Mission
Report on the Launch of African Women Filmmakers Hub (Harare, Zimbabwe) 2016
“Women and Youth: Vectors of peace, agents of development” | Femmes et jeunes en Francophonie: vecteurs de paix, acteurs de développement" - DAKAR 2014
Call for Proposals | Appel à propositions - African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) | Fonds de développement pour la femme africaine
Media, Film and Gender Advocacy Workshop 24th February to 5 March 2014 (South Africa)
Report on the 2nd African Women in Film Forum (AWIFF) - Accra, 23-25 September 2013
Interview with Rosalie Ndah, president of CNA Afrique-Cinéma Numérique Ambulant (Mobile Travelling Cinema) and president of CNA Benin
"Gender and Media in Africa" Africa Media Review: Call for papers for a Special Issue
Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe Community Outreach
Scenarios from Africa 2011: A strong female presence
Gender and the Media in Africa (1-3 Nov 2011) - CODESRIA
International Images Film Festival for Women 2010 presented by Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe
African Girls Make Movies Too
A Call to Action: UN Themes and African Women in Cinema
*Interviews from Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television. Africa World Press, 2000.