Disruption and Sonita demonstrate the power of action for change
“Can a critical mass of women making decisions change the world?” This question is at the heart of the film Disruption, which featured at the Jakarta Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights this weekend at the Goethe-Institut in Menteng, Jakarta.
Disruption, which screened on Saturday, 26 November, tells the story of Latin American activist-economists who set out to reduce inequality in the region with a model that places women at the centre of the drive for social change. Chief Executive of Kapal Perempuan Misiyah commented that the film demonstrated the importance of education, which grants women “more bargaining power” in their social and economic relations.
The documentary Sonita explores the life of the eponymous young Afghan refugee living in Iran, who has her mind set on recording a rap album, notwithstanding rules against women singing and her family’s intent to sell her to be married to whoever offers the highest price.
“Our culture still treats women as objects,” said Azriana Rambe, Chairperson of Komnas Perempuan.
Each film was followed by interactive discussons with expert panels, who engaged the audience in illuminating and spirited discussions about the films and what resonance the ideas presented may have in the Indonesian context.
One audience member questioned the relevance to Indonesia of a film set in Iran, such as Sonita.
Rambe laid out a clear case for the film’s relevance, reminding the audience that in Indonesia, “70 per cent of children receive less than nine years of education,” a situation made worse by child marriage, which limits the educational opportunities available to young women. Rambe also observed that 93 per cent of victims of violence do not report to the authorities for fear of being blamed and suffering reprisals at the hands of their abusers, many of whom are family members.
Verdinand Robertua, lecturer at the Centre for Security and Foreign Affairs Studies at UKI, who was on the panel for Disruption, said the film was very relevant to the Indonesian situation and could indeed inspire change for the economic empowerment of women and girls across the country. The lack of access to education, to basic knowledge of economic and financial affairs, was endemic in many developing countries such as Indonesia, especially in the far flung parts of the country away from digital networks and city services. The film demonstrated how collective action by civil society, women's groups, the private sector and the government could collectively bring about dynamic change.
The film festival and forum, hosted by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Jakarta, forms part of the 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Gender-based Violence global campaign, which began on Friday, 25 November.
Throughout the 16 Days, the Planet 50-50 Comic and Cartoon Exhibition on Gender Equality is open free to the public at the Warehouse on the fifth floor of Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta. Other events at the Warehouse will include public discussions, a collage workshop, talk shows, book launches, and further film screenings. Monuments in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, and Bali meanwhile are being lit up in orange each evening to demonstrate solidarity with the campaign.
UNIC Jakarta, with assistance from UN Women and local journalists with experience covering gender issues, also hosted a media workshop on Monday 21 November to support journalists’ abilities to identify the gender dimensions of news stories and remove gender biases from their own reporting.