Photo acknowledgement: Heidi Augestad


WoMin Film

 

In March/April 2014, the WoMin leadership agreed to make a film about extractivism from the perspective of peasant and working-class women in the region. After clarifying the broad concept for the film, we went out in search of potential filmmakers. We were inundated with interest and received more than 30 applications. The WoMin film working group shortlisted ten applicants but only interviewed two filmmakers. Our choice is a remarkable Ghanaian feminist filmmaker, Yaba Badoe. For more on Yaba see the following links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaba_Badoe; http://www.witchesofgambaga.com/; http://amaatafilm.com/

In October 2014, Yaba joined us on a study tour to Kenya, which partly aimed to introduce her to WoMin and some of our alliance partners, the WoMin film working group, and the extractives industries and their manifold impacts. In the last quarter of 2014, we agreed to defer the making of the film to the second half of 2015 to accommodate the filmmaker’s schedule.

 

Our concept for a 30–45 minute film:

  • Three countries – one in Southern, one in East and one in West Africa

  • Three powerful cases/stories (one in each country) – the story must be of an active struggle in which women are deeply engaged and will be told through one powerful charismatic woman activist who is deeply immersed in this struggle

  • Three ‘themes’ – each story will address a main theme or issue, some under consideration include:

    • Undermining land and food sovereignty. This story will illustrate the land grab/s, and the externalised medium to long-term cumulative costs of air, soil and water pollution on food production, livelihoods, health and well-being. It will need to speak to whether and how compensation was determined and the particular exclusions confronted by women. It will need to illustrate women’s role as the major food producers in the community, and show how the undermining of the local food system by extractives has additional detrimental impacts on women’s role and status in family and community.

    • Extractivism and violence against women. This story will address how this extractivist model of development fuels deeper inequality and poverty and ferments high levels of violence against women. We may profile the typical co-incidence of civil conflict and natural resources exploitation (as we have seen in the DRC, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria), but we are also interested in exploring violence against women as it occurs in the concentrated settlements that sit adjacent to mega-mines, and in artisanal mining settlements. We are particularly interested in exploring the militarisation of geographies and countries which comes with the growth of the extractives industries, and the use of sexual violence as part of a wider strategy of repressing resistance by communities and artisanal miners.

    • Externalised costs to women’s unpaid labour and corporate subsidy. This story will specifically focus on the externalised environmental and social costs of extractives and related refining/processing industries. Here it will be best to have a story that illustrates the long-term cumulative costs of extraction (like the acid mine drainage that accompanies gold extraction, and acid sulphur rain that comes with the extraction of copper), but this is not absolutely essential. The story will need to show how extractives lead to a rise in the ill-health of family members and workers, the disruption of access to key natural resources like water and the distancing of fields from homesteads through forced relocations, and a reduced ability to produce food, which are all impacts that predominantly fall upon women to manage through their unpaid, unrecognised, undervalued labour.

 

Since March 2015, there has been intensive discussion with the filmmaker, other allied filmmakers and a production manager, whom WoMin has now recruited on a consultancy basis, about (a) how to reduce the costs of the film; and (b) how to mobilise the additional resources needed. In November 2015, we will make the first part of the film (one country, one case) and develop a trailer which will be launched in January 2016 for online fundraising and campaigning. The rest of the film will be made in 2016 as we mobilise further resources. The film will launch in the first half of 2017.

The film is desperately needed as there is nothing to date which tells the story of extractives from a continental African women’s rights perspective and which embraces a wide range of recurrent themes in women’s experiences. There are a few existing films that are country or single case-focused:

 

However, the WoMin film will fill a gaping hole and will be distributed in three main continental languages. The film will be used in WoMin’s political education and training, advocacy and general awareness-raising campaigns. It will be supported by appropriate resource materials.