iwonder March highlights: Hidden Heroines
This International Women’s Day iwonder turns its attention to the women of the world who toil quietly behind the scenes, with a focus on the thousands of female workers who leave everything behind in their homelands to travel overseas in search of work to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
In ‘Help Is On The Way’, an Indonesian training centre, and the practice of shipping rural woman off to jobs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, goes under the spotlight, accompanied by ‘Homebound’, and the animated portrayal of one migrant worker’s experience of hardship and endurance making her way through a punishing system.
Then in this month’s iwonder What Top Five, we look at women working hard to break through patriarchies and male dominated fields to achieve something that they’ve long been told was not there’s to be had.
Help Is On The Way
#Exploitation #Family #Enlightening
Within the corrupt system of recruitment, training and placement, millions of rural Indonesian women place their hopes and dreams in domestic care roles overseas. Can competent help be delivered when the path is broken?
Help Is On The Way brings to the screen a busy training centre in Indonesia preparing women to take up employment overseas as domestic workers. Every year, hundreds of women like Sukma, Meri, Muji and Tari are recruited by local agents who are remunerated after successfully seeing their recruits enrolled and placed abroad. They are among the many women from rural areas aspiring to work in countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
At times highly emotional, Help Is On The Way is also funny, enlightening, and a little competitive, offering a unique insight into a lifestyle not often seen on screen.
#Animation #Intimate #Relationships
Tari longs to return home to Indonesia after more than 10 years working abroad in Taiwan. When COVID-19 struck, her plans unravelled revealing a lack of rights for vulnerable migrant workers.
In Homebound, Tari narrates her own journey and reveals personal stories related to her decision to work in Taiwan, her strained family relationships, the risks involved in working abroad, and the traps she has fallen into. She shares intimate details of how her relationship with her son has suffered, revealing the guilt she felt for leaving him behind.
Homebound is an intimate, animated portrayal of one migrant worker’s experience abroad, exposing those complicit in a system that takes advantage of thousands of women each year.
#Uplifting #Inspiring #Moving
The Helper chronicles diverse stories from Hong Kong’s domestic worker community, uncovering the inspiring combination of grit, pride and determination that drives them.
In a city renowned for wealth and luxury, the film brings to light the sacrifices they make to support families - both in Hong Kong and at home. Often seen as the second mother in many homes, the stories show the immense contribution they make to Hong Kong society; a domestic backbone provided to so many.
Yet these contributions regularly feel under-recognised, and the constraints suffered by many leave them feeling exposed, and sometimes even homeless. False accusations, relationships and financial hardship often means they struggle for a fair hearing.
But the overriding message is a positive one. This film gives a human face to an often-critiqued community, countering negativity with uplifting stories of personal achievement.
February 23rd, 1913
On the eve of World War I, campaigning for peace, women observed their first International Women's Day on February 23, the last Sunday in February. Following discussions, International Women's Day was agreed to be marked annually on March 8 that translated in the widely adopted Gregorian calendar from February 23 - and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since.
Click here to read more about the history of International Women’s Day.
Zetkin left her mark internationally when, in 1910, she tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs - and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament - greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was formed.
Click here to read more about International Women Day’s significant people and places.
Breaking through barriers
Whether it’s about reaching new heights – literally – for the women battling to carve out a career in aviation, or the proud women of Papua New Guinea and their battle to overcome the culturally engrained subjugation of women, in this February’s International Women’s Day themed iwonder What Top Five, we pay tribute to women all over the world breaking through gender barriers.
1) Fly Like a Girl
#Courage #Determination #Flight
More than just a film, this documentary is a movement of young girls and women relentlessly pursuing their passion for aviation – a field dominated by men.
Hear first-hand stories from those who dare to aim higher. From a Lego-loving young girl who includes female pilots in her toy airplanes, to a courageous woman who helped lead shuttle missions to space, this film shows us that women are in charge of their own destiny.
2) Wantok Meri: Papua New Guinea At A Crossroads
#Rights #Respect #Change
A black cloud has been cast over paradise. In the tropical oasis that is Papua New Guinea, women face violence, poverty and subservience even as they are working for their families and communities. In remote tribal villages and towns, they tend the gardens, looking after the children, pigs, and households in a patriarchal society where they get little say and even less thanks.
Fortunately, there is a new breed of women striking out against the status quo and generations of cultural law to build a new PNG. Given the smallest opportunities to improve their lot, these women are gathering whole communities under their wing and making inroads against ingrained oppressions.
3) Commander Arian
#Freedom #Conflict #Strength
On the barren plains of the Syrian countryside, 30-year-old military commander Arian leads her battalion of women as they fight ISIS. For her, the armed struggle is the only path to emancipation from a deeply patriarchal society. At her side, director Alba Sotorra documents the liberation of the city of Kobane and uncovers the reality of life at the frontline. Wounded by five bullets, Arian is forced to deal with the wounds of war, both visible and invisible, and to find new ways to fight for women’s freedom.
4) Beyond the Grace Note
#Talent #Music #Breakthrough
Gain unique access to world-famous female conductors who share their own hard paths to the long-held bastion of the patriarchy – the conductors’ podium. Filmed over a five-year period, the film brings together a stellar line-up of women conductors, who open up for the first time about the struggles they faced throughout their careers and how their love of music saved them in this difficult and competitive profession.
5) Dying to Divorce
#Justice #Politics #Determination
Ipek Bozkurt, a courageous lawyer, is determined to challenge this misogynistic trend by putting abusive men behind bars. Working with a group of activists, she fights to get justice for two survivors of horrific assaults: Arzu, married at 14 and Kubra, a successful TV presenter. She struggles not only against a biased legal system but an increasingly repressive government, leaving Ipek, like thousands of other lawyers, fearing imprisonment.