Child Brides: Stolen Lives is a one-hour documentary that travels to Niger, India and Guatemala to report on a global custom that devastates lives, endangers women’s health and opportunity, and keeps communities from prospering.
Active Voice teamed up with NOW on PBS, the producers of Child Brides: Stolen Lives, to imagine creative ways to use the film to reach audiences beyond the United States. At the start of the Global Engagement Campaign, the documentary was circulating widely among philanthropic organizations in the U.S. and was successfully raising awareness about the practice. NOW on PBS asked Active Voice to find out how Child Brides could be useful internationally a tricky prospect that would require cultural sensitivity and strong partnerships.
The award winning documentary has been praised for the multiple perspectives it presents on the issue of child marriage: “I really like the cross-cultural perspective on the issue of child marriage,” explained Carrie Berg of the International Rescue Committee, “there were striking scenes in every country... all incredibly moving.” The documentary facilitates opportunities for discussion about the societal and economic pressures that might lead parents to marry off their young daughters and explores what is being done from the grassroots to change that. Because the stories contained are varied and the circumstances for each quite different, Child Brides has proven to be an effective tool for engaging a wide array of audiences concerned with the practice.
A Masaai Focus Group
Working closely with NOW on PBS, Active Voice has been building partnerships with international organizations that want to incorporate the documentary into orientation materials for volunteers working abroad or as an educational component in their activities. For example, co-Founder of Beads for Education, Debbie Rooney is testing the value of the documentary to local Massai communities she works with in Kenya . In January 2009 she brought the DVD and Facilitator Guide to male leaders in four communities. Her goal is to raise issues about child marriage and engage them in discussion about what they think can be done in their villages to help curtail the practice, support women and promote community well-being.
Closer to home, but with a strong ripple effect around the globe, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Population Council are now using Child Brides to strengthen their ongoing programming that addresses gender-based violence. The IRC screened Child Brides: Stolen Lives for their 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Based Violence campaign in November 2008. Initiated by their Gender Based Violence division, the program is perfect fit with their campaign theme, “Human Rights for Women—Human Rights for All: the 60th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights,” The documentary has been used in high level strategy sessions – and even brown bag discussions – to probe what the “U.S. can do to address violence against women in crises.” (click here
for more details). The Population Council is using the documentary in community engagement activities and programming for efforts in Guatemala, Mexico, India, Kenya and Ethiopia. They will be using it to reach girl participants in programs abroad, their families, community leaders, international donors, other partners, and sister organizations working on the issue.
Active Voice is also developing programming with the Peace Corps and Room to Read. After reviewing trimester reports from volunteers indicating they have identified child marriage as an issue in their communities, the Peace Corps’ Gender and Development Division has determined Child Brides could be an important tool to help them address the practice. Room to Read has been incorporating Child Brides into workshops with their regional Program Officers to raise the issue of child marriage in relation to their work. By doing so, they hope to develop ways to effectively incorporate the documentary into their programming and activities abroad.
Child Brides: Stolen Lives will not solve the complex problems associated with early marriage, but it is already generating important conversations in select communities from the deserts of Kenya to the mountain villages of Guatamala. For international aid workers, it’s an ice breaker. For NOW on PBS, it’s more proof that quality documentaries can make a difference way beyond broadcast, and far beyond borders.
Funding for Child Brides: Stolen Lives provided by:
Outreach funding for Child Brides: Stolen Lives provided by: