Spotlight on Women's Empowerment

Nov. 9, 2017

UA Events to Support Women's Empowerment and Human Rights

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona, in partnership with local philanthropists and community partners, is shining a spotlight on the issue of women's empowerment and human rights by hosting a series of events Nov. 14-18. 

Through a play, a documentary film and a series of workshops, organizers hope to raise awareness about critical human rights issues affecting large numbers of women and girls around the globe. The events coincide with International Education Week, coordinated by the UA Office of Global Initiatives. 

"We want to present positive stories of how families survive and even thrive in the most difficult situations, as well as to humanize those who are too often marginalized by society," said William Simmons, professor in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies and director of the newly created online graduate program in human rights practice. 

The events are organized by those at the UA and in the community who share a passion for female empowerment, for the arts and for the culture of India. These include the UA Human Rights Practice Program; UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; and philanthropists and activists Neelam and Gulshan Sethi; Myrian and Dominic Ortega; JoAnna and Bill Westcott; and Elise Collins Shields and Creston Shields. Additional sponsors include Tucson Medical Center, YWCA, UA Center for Documentary, The Loft Cinema, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and Split Seed Productions, a new human rights production company based in Tucson. 

"Gulshan and I love what the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences does," Neelam Sethi said. "We are honored to play a small role in helping to bring about awareness regarding what so many women around the world have to face, and to help empower them with the confidence and skills they need to change their lives and make a difference."

Documentary: 'The Tent Village'

The first event will be a screening of "The Tent Village," a documentary film by Nilima Abrams, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. The documentary provides a rare view of roadside dwellers filmed by their children and is an exploration of innate worth. The teenage filmmakers provide nuanced perspectives on child marriage, caste stigma and addiction. Though unflinchingly honest, the story is gently hopeful and cross-culturally relevant.

The documentary will be shown at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., as part of the Loft Film Festival. Tickets are available through the Loft ticket office. The documentary includes a postshow Q&A with the filmmakers. 

Play: 'Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan'

On Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., Dipti Mehta will perform her one-woman play, "Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan," which raises awareness and breaks down the social stigma that exists around sex workers. Mehta, who received her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the UA in 2006, works in New York City doing medical research. She also is an internationally known, award-winning actress, playwright and voice personality. 

The play will be held at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $20 for reserved seating, $10 for students. A $50 VIP ticket includes a postshow dessert reception, at which patrons will have the opportunity to meet Mehta. (Tickets can be purchased here.)


These workshops will teach people about women's empowerment, social justice, creativity, filmmaking and activism: 

  • "Saranja Workshop: Let's Play. Let's Create. With Dipti Metha" — Friday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to noon, Women's Resource Center, Student Union Memorial Center. Participants in this workshop on women's empowerment will come away with an outline or draft of their dream project and develop a structure to see their project to completion.
  • "Empowering Youth Though Participatory Filmmaking" — Friday, Nov. 17, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., Marshall 211. This UA DocScapes workshop with Nilima Abrams and two of the Indian filmmakers of "The Tent Village" is for graduate students, faculty and community members interested in documentary filmmaking. In the workshop, Abrams will delve into the filmmaking process, including how the film came about; the challenges and opportunities it presented; and general participatory filmmaking approaches. Discussion topics will include privacy and safety, creative control, finding narrative in found footage, and drawing out stories that are empowering and not shaming. Abrams and participants also will discuss how to start teaching basic filmmaking to youth. (This workshop is already full.)
  • A women's empowerment workshop for immigrant women will be led by Dipti Mehta at the YWCA. 

"This exciting week of events combining human rights and the arts brings together the passions of a wide range of folks from across campus and in the community," Williams said.


Media Contacts:
William Simmons
UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Amalia Mora
UA Academic Initiatives and Student Success

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