Sunday, 17 January 2021

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Ciné-ONU: Girl Unbound

11 October 2017 - “I am a Muslim, but before Muslim I was born human.” These are the words of Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a Pakistani girl whose squash career is a symbol of the struggle for women’s rights in the Taliban stronghold of Waziristan. Whilst there are no legal grounds for women and girls to be excluded from playing sport in Pakistan, it is considered Haram (un-Islamic). This paradox lies at the heart of Maria’s story as she disguises herself as a boy to be able to play squash, flouting restrictive Islamic customs and challenging gender-based discrimination.

To mark the International Day of the Girl Child, Ciné-ONU screened ‘Girl Unbound’, a documentary  about Maria Toorpakai Wazir as she defies the Taliban to pursue her dream, and by doing so becomes a symbol for gender equality in the region.  


During his introduction, before the screening, Dan Costello (Canadian Ambassador to the EU) spoke of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance policy in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. “Canada adopted a Feminist International Assistance policy to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as the most effective way to reduce poverty and build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world.”


The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Carlos Jimenez (UNRIC), with three guest speakers: Nadine Krysostan (UNFPA Brussels); Mary Wanjiku Mwangi (Youth activist from Nairobi), and Cécile Vernant (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung). 

Speaking after the film, Cécile Vernant said that the film highlighted the fact that, “a support system is vital to break the cycles of gender stereotypes.” This was echoed by Nadine Krysostan, who also spoke of the difficulties in breaking gender stereotypes.

However, Krysostan refused to shy away from this challenge, reiterating that, “When women thrive, societies thrive” and that “Empowering women is an issue for all of society.” Equally determined, both Vernant and Mary Wanjiku Mwangi emphasised that breaking gender stereotypes at an early age was a crucial first step in achieving gender equality.

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The handout from our event is available here

For more info on ‘Girl Unbound’ click here

Learn more about the European Week of Action for Girls

Learn more about the International Day of the Girl Child

Why not have a look at the photos from the event on our Flickr?

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @CineONU #CineONU

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