SkyFilms Inc | Stories in Development
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Stories in Development

She Rises Up will profile several women in countries around the world who are lifting themselves out of poverty. These women will not be filmed over a weekend, but will be filmed over many months so we can truly understand their circumstances and successes. We will come to know these women–their dreams and ambitions, hopes for their children, and challenges they’ve faced. We will laugh with them, and cheer with them when they succeed. In many cases, we will come to know the local activists who have worked hard to remove the economic obstacles in the way of these women–obstacles many in the Western world may not even have thought of, obstacles unique to the local region or culture.

At this time, our locations and stories are currently being researched.  Below are just a few examples of the stories we’re exploring:

ASIA

In one island nation, the economy is plagued with a very high cost of living. For many years, the tariffs on feminine hygiene products were extraordinarily high: 101%.  This may not sound like an economic obstacle, but for most families living in extreme poverty, it can put such products out of reach. The end results are that girls might have trouble completing school and women might have difficulty keeping jobs.

A local advocacy group is working to remove some of the barriers that hit hardest on

women in particular. We will come to know women who work for change on the ground and in the government.  Recently, they were able to get legislation passed to reduce tariffs on feminine products from 101% to 71%.  Every victory matters…

We are led to a rural school for girls, where we spend time getting to know smart, ambitious, young women.  One young woman describes how her parents struggle so that she can attend school and how much responsibility she feels to do well. 

What may seem like a small economic change by reducing a tariff could mean that girls in poverty have a better chance of completing their education, and women in poverty are able to more easily enter the workforce.  

EASTERN EUROPE

For many former Soviet states, oppression from the past lingers on. Many women living in these countries still face restrictions on working in certain professional fields.  The Soviet Union enacted an extreme level of control over women’s economic freedom by banning women from working in hundreds of jobs and professions deemed too dangerous for women, too physically difficult, or unfavorable for ‘reproductive health.’  Vestiges of that system live on today.

In one country alone, women were prohibited to work in over 450 jobs. But no more.  Thanks in part to the campaign All Jobs 4 All Women, which advocates for the elimination of work bans for women in all Eastern European and Central Asian countries, these restrictions are slowly being lifted. 

At the end of 2017, bans on over 450 jobs that were previously unavailable to women were removed, opening opportunities for women to enter the workforce dramatically.  We’ll meet two women who have fought for their right to work and are now employed in a profession previously denied to them, such as engineering, trucking, or mining. 

AFRICA

Manufacturing in Senegal comes with many economic obstacles. Even tariffs on products like cardboard—which are currently at 45%–raise production costs significantly. We will meet a Senegalese-American entrepreneur dealing with these obstacles first-hand, who believes it is essential for her country to remove these economic obstacles so it can grow economically, which in turn could offer more work opportunities for women.

This entrepreneur is a great believer in investment over aid for Africa, and her company epitomizes that philosophy. She employs several rural women in Senegal, who never dreamed they would have the opportunity to have work outside of the home.  

We will profile her employees in Senegal, getting to know these women and the opportunities they see, or don’t see, in Senegal for their own daughters. 

In another part of Africa, many women support themselves with small agricultural efforts, primarily trading across the borders in small, landlocked countries. In this region 80% of those trading across borders are women. But dozens of barriers have made trade across the border costly, time consuming and dangerous.  

This story is about the immediate, visceral benefit free trade and open borders can have on women and their families in these communities. One local organization has already experienced some success with reducing the number of barriers for crossing the border, from almost 30 rules, regulations, checkpoints and fees to 19. What would take all day, now can be done in two hours, and with fewer opportunities to have bribes demanded. 

Educational programs have also been initiated, run by women for women in villages along the borders, informing them of their rights, news ways of trading in safety, and training on how to participate in the formal economic sector. 

LATIN AMERICA

It takes a lot of time and money to create a formal business in many Latin American countries. It is almost impossible to have easy access to work space without being harassed by many local inspectors that try to find any excuse to charge, fine, or even close businesses.  This is true for most small businesses, whether owned by men or women.

Yet, in one South American country, about 70% of micro and small sized businesses are incubated by women. Many of these entrepreneurs face additional obstacles simply because they are women, and women entrepreneurs are treated differently than men in that culture.

In the early 2000s, a group of women created “Mujeres Batalla,”, or “Battle Women.” Many of these women had risen from poverty and built strong businesses. Through the battles they have won over the years, they have achieved significant status for their companies within the business community. They will tell us their stories, their sacrifices, and all the challenges they had and have to overcome on a daily basis.