Initiative Update

Girl Power shines through the Lens!

Carolyn Seaman
Posted November 9, 2021 from Nigeria

The Girl Nation Program is a social impact film project targeting young women (18-30 years) with technical filmmaking skills and empowering them to use their films to champion social change. The Girl Nation Program is implemented in Nigeria with support from the French Embassy's PISCCA Fund - a fund for local civil society organisation's programs. Girls Voices Initiative launched the Girl Nation Program in 2019 with the goal of reaching 300 young women across Nigeria's 6 geo-political zones and sustain the empowerment of the young female filmmakers to become a vibrant community of changemakers using film to catalyze social change in communities. Our pilot program targeted 150 young women in 2 geo-political zones but manifested an interesting result reaching 216 female undergraduates from 2 public universities (University of Abuja and Bayero University Kano) in 2 geo-political zones (North Central and North West). The cohorts produced 2 documentaries and 2 short films. And following the successful pilot, we embarked on another stream reaching 250 female undergraduates from the 2 geo-political zones and an additional new cohort from a third public university (University of Calabar) in our third geo-political zone (South South). This has had us reach a total of 523 young women across 3 geo-political zones. In the 2020 stream, an additional documentary and 3 short films were produced with 2 of the short films featuring some Nollywood actors which provided the beneficiaries with an even richer experience working with professional actors.

Our biggest pride with the Girl Nation Program is the unprecedented impact we have and continue to witness in the course of our program implementation. A major outcome of the Girl Nation program is to have the films produced by the women screened to wide audiences in various communities (physical and virtual) in order to challenge social norms affecting girls and women. When the films are screened in communities, we facilitate informal conversations that challenge these social norms and inspire changed behaviours and attitudes towards girls and women. In 2019, we had impressive screening events in various communities and inspired rich conversations between communities. One of the success stories is from one of the communities where the community leader made a commitment to work with the community elders to stop child marriage in their community after our film screening. And we followed up with the community to learn that the community leader held a meeting with the elders in the mosque and they passed a policy within their community that no girl should be married until she has completed her secondary education at the minimum. This is a huge step forward in terms of community responsibility and we are sustaining our engagement by monitoring to keep the community accountable on that promise.

Even more overwhelming is the virtual screening of the women's films and the impact that continues to happen online. The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns and social distancing guidelines prevented us from convening physical screening events and we had to resort to the virtual space. Interestingly, we have equally recorded tremendous impact with over 125,000 views from the YouTube Girl Nation Films Playlist comprising a total of 17 videos (with the full films, trailers and practice videos). And over 450,000 views on Facebook Watch. While we basked in the shock of this impact, we also had the opportunity to enter the various films into several international film festivals. 

The International Film Festival selections have continued to pour in for the remarkable productions of the Girl Nation Program with BIG wins of selections at the Toronto International Women Film Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival, the Pan African International Film Festival and the very recent African International Film Festival. Even ahead of the release of the films to mark the International Women’s Day, this year, two (2) of the 2020/2021 short films were selected in the Toronto International Women Film Festival and both films were nominated for the Best Student Film. That is a remarkable record coming from both cohorts to have both productions compete at an International Film Festival in Toronto. It showed how globally respected both productions were to both qualify for the same award. Since the pilot launch of the Girl Nation Program, the three cohorts of the program have produced 8 outstanding productions: 5 short films and 3 documentaries with a whopping 32 international screenings around the world (Germany, Ireland, Romania, Belarus, Russia, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Bolivia, Canada, China, Albania, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Norway, Austria, Hungary, Peru, Chile, 2 in the United Kingdom, 5 in the United States of America and 6 at international film festivals here in Nigeria. The feedback that we have received from some of the International Film Festivals is very encouraging and speaks about the potential of women to transcend spaces with their impact. The virtual screening of the films and trailers have mobilized very rich interactions, particularly comments from males who call out practices like child marriage, gender-based violence and other barriers and limitations placed on girls and women in their communities. While the results of the Girl Nation Program have and continue to inspire us, we strive to do more to leverage our reach and continue to drive social change through film while empowering women to improve their livelihoods with the skills that they have built. Some of the beneficiaries have been placed in professional production teams to work with them on the field to start to strengthen their skills while earning some money to help them with their school and other necessities. 

World Pulse has been a rich support system for me throughout this process. I have had the tremendous opportunity to weave in our Girl Nation Program into my Ambassador Program at World Pulse so I am proud to share this as a significant (and very long overdue) update on my Ambassador Program initiative. How did I make the connection? Our Girl Nation Program was designed with an empowerment program kickstarting the engagement with the young women. And I always led a session to share about World Pulse and introduce the girls to the platform. I am proud to have supported a number of the young women to sign up on World Pulse and start to share their own stories. And I am grateful to my World Pulse Ambassadors - these are wonderful sisters who have encouraged me to keep the program going successfully. I have received special features of the program and our impact on World Pulse and on the indigenous platforms of some of our amazing Ambassadors. I salute your love and support Dear Sisters! And I couldn't be more grateful to the wonder women at World Pulse Corporate office - I love and treasure each one of you. And I am super blessed to be in the World Pulse Community.

I am so grateful to have been able to share this initiative update and I will leave links of the films so you can get your community together to watch and share our impact experience too. 

How many people have you impacted since your last update?

600000

Comments 9

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Jill Langhus
Nov 10, 2021
Nov 10, 2021

Hello, Miss Carolyn,

How are you doing? What a great trailer and update.

That's amazing about the child marriage policy that was implemented due to someone seeing the film:-) Yay!

Those are great stats. Perhaps Covid worked in your favor on this one.

Congrats to you, your organization, work, and mission, dear! You rock! I think I have some work to do to keep up with your stats:-)

You're a treasure to all of us at World Pulse, too, dear! Keep up the great work, and thanks so much for sharing your big wins.

Carolyn Seaman
Nov 10, 2021
Nov 10, 2021

Hi Jill,

Thank you for your kind words. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve humanity and blessed to be able to share my experience with the wonderful community here. Thank you for your constant encouragement and support. I cherish you forever.

Love,
Carolyn

Jill Langhus
Nov 12, 2021
Nov 12, 2021

You're very welcome, dear:-) Yes. I hear you, and don't ever stop being your lovely self and being so humble:-) Aw. I cherish you, too, dear!

Hope you have a great weekend. XX

Beth Lacey
Nov 10, 2021
Nov 10, 2021

Carolyn, I am so happy to hear your team film has been selected for the AFRIFF and up for awards. This is so exciting! You must be so proud.
XO

Carolyn Seaman
Nov 10, 2021
Nov 10, 2021

Hi Beth,
Indeed! It's truly exciting! It's golden to be able to empower young women with skills and watch the results keep on giving. I am truly grateful to be a part of the experience. Thank you for your encouragement. I appreciate you!

XOXO,
Carolyn

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 11, 2021
Nov 11, 2021

Carolyn, dear Sister,
Your work and the work of the empowered girls you have mentored is phenomenal. Film is such a powerful medium, and there are so many lessons tucked into this one. Congratulations on the leaps forward!

Carolyn Seaman
Dec 01, 2021
Dec 01, 2021

Dear Mama Tam,

Thank you for your kind words and for being a powerful voice celebrating our work. I appreciate you and look forward to co-creating even greater impact with you and our girls.

In love and solidarity,
Carolyn

KABAHENDA KIGGUNDU
Jan 09
Jan 09

Wow Carolyn,

Happy New Year and Kudos to you and your girls!

The Girl Nation Program is a great changemaker! Obviously, your efforts have been richly rewarded!

Congratulations on bringing change to the community with respect to the Elders' commitment to end child marriage! I hope that other communities follow suit.

I salute you on the impressive statistics on Youtube, and on your wins from the various film festivals. More power to you.

Catherine De Freitas

Happy New Year sis. I salute you for the amazing work that you and your team is doing. Our voice is a vehicle to transformation. Continue to empower. :) Blessings.