The way women are portrayed in traditional media (and now, I dare say, in social media) has been the subject of complex and often heated debate around the world for decades. In Jamaica and across the Caribbean, this is still very much a burning issue. For example, Women’s Media Watch (now WMW Jamaica) has worked with journalists to develop gender-aware media practices, and to influence broadcast policy and legislation. The organization also provides training programs for diverse audiences on the prevention of gender based violence and the promotion of gender equality. Now the documentary film “Miss Representation,” an official selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, will receive a public airing in Jamaica on Monday, March 23 at the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, Mona at 6:00 p.m. Admission is free. A discussion with a rather substantial panel will follow (including UWI’s Filmmaker in Residence Storm Saulter). Although this is from a U.S. perspective, I think you will find many of the issues raised are most relevant to Jamaica, too. This is worth going to see. Here is the press release, below:
Miss Representation first premiered in the documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival where it caught the eye of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. It made its television debut as part of the OWN documentary film club with over 1.3 million people tuning in to its multiple broadcasts. Additional screenings with corporations, non-‐profits, religious groups, government organizations and communities are happening every day all over the world.
The film includes stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with famous politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics like Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Jane Fonda, Rosario Dawson, Cory Booker, Jackson Katz, Jean Kilbourne, and Gloria Steinem. The film offers startling facts and statistics that will leave audiences shaken and armed with a new perspective. For more information visit: http://www.missrepresentation.org
Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-‐representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of females of all ages, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel empowered. “We are thrilled to have so many outreach opportunities for Miss Representation. This film was made to be a change agent in our culture, to inspire both women and men to recognize women’s collective voice, leadership capacity and equal rights,” says Newsom.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality-‐-‐and not in her talents, skills and capacity as a leader. While women have made strides in leadership over the past few decades, the playing field is still not level. The glass ceiling remains difficult to crack.
The distribution of the film has been the catalyst for a social action campaign led by MissRepresentation.org. The campaign seeks to empower women of all ages and provide them with new opportunities to realize their full potential.
Local Screening: In support of their on-‐going work in women’s empowerment, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, Nadine Spencer, Ambassador to the Representation Project, along with community partners, will host a debut screening of the award-‐winning documentary Miss Representation in Kingston, Jamaica, on Monday, March 23, starting at 6:00 p.m. The screening will be free of charge to attendees, and will take place in the lecture theatre, Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, Mona. Community partners include Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Kazembe & Associates, Nursing and Homemakers Inc., University of the West Indies, BrandEq Group, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), Eckler (Consultants + Actuaries), BrandEq Group, and The Gleaner Company Limited.
Following the screening, a panel comprising film director Storm Saulter; Kay Osborne (CEO of Kay Osborne Associates Ltd.); Aubyn Hill (CEO of Corporate Strategies Ltd.); Dr. Pamela Appelt (Retired Citizenship Court Judge, Canada); Kamina Johnson Smith (Attorney and Senator); Marlene Malahoo Forte (Senator); Pat Ramsay (AL Harvard Fellow 2014, Director, International Women’s Forum) will discuss the film. Television broadcaster, Fae Ellington, will moderate the panel.
“I am pleased to see this film screened in Jamaica, and am proud to be involved in this dialogue. This is a step in the right direction, and will have an influence on how women are viewed in Jamaica in the future,” said Nadine Spencer. “The issue of women’s representation and accessible pathways to leadership is quite important, and both the film and panel will inspire constructive conversation. Conversation is a critical part of the solution.”
MissRepresentation.org is igniting a cross-‐generational movement to shift the cultural mindset of communities, interrupt and stop patterns of sexism, change the way women are represented in the media and ensure a tipping point that will lead to gender parity in leadership.
If you would like to attend, please contact Tasheena Mangal, Email: Tasheena@brandeq.com. Tel: (876) 507-4548.