How entertainment can be catalyst for women’s empowerment
By Elzita Beukes
Corporate Affairs Manager
How many of us look forward to collapsing on the couch to watch our favourite series at the end of a long day? Or, getting the family together for the traditional Sunday night movie? While entertainment has long been viewed as a way of relaxation, it has come to mean more than that to many people across the world.
The entertainment industry plays a crucial role in our lives and societies. But how can something as simple as movies and TV series be used to bring about cultural shifts and the expansion of an audience’s perspectives?
The value of entertainment in women empowerment
As we reflect on Women’s Day and #EmbraceEquity, let’s consider how entertainment can help shift thinking and make a positive impact on the lives of women. Entertainment provides a valuable opportunity for stories, characters, and themes inclusive of women to be shared because educating audiences can shift cultural norms and understanding.
Entertainment holds the attention and interest of an audience, giving pleasure and delight. Understanding how entertainment functions as part of culture could lead to an important interaction with others in how people see the world. For this reason, it’s vital to view entertainment as more than simply passing the time, it is a catalyst for social change and a tool of empowerment, with the industry making enormous efforts to equally represent men and women to close the gender barrier gap.
Challenging viewers and content creators
The narrative seems to be changing today with shows like Grown Woman, Yellowstone, and Lioness portraying strong women challenging stereotypes and highlighting potential.
The stronger women we see in films and other places, the more we will start to automatically associate strength as a feminine trait, and as a result, the more women will be treated as strong, equal members of society. The film is the mirror that not only reminds us where we have been as women, but where we still need to go. Seeing women in roles of leadership, rather than victims, lets women and girls see their potential. The way women are depicted in film and television influences consciously and subconsciously the way both girls and boys understand what it means to be a woman.
We all know that Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Princess Leia (Star Wars), and Nakia (Black Panther) are not real, but they have the power to inspire when they show up as the hero on screen.
Where are we headed?
Even though Africa has seen the largest growth in commercial filmmaking (Nollywood generates over $6.4 billion in revenue and more than 2 500 movies per year), the share of opportunities for women is considerably small. However, things are changing now with more women coming to the forefront wanting to share their stories and showcase their creativity. Slowly but steadily, people are realizing the importance of gender equality and women are being given opportunities that would have been completely inaccessible in the past. The MultiChoice Namibia and NBC Mukorob Film project, for example, which commissioned the production of 13 local films, boasts seven local female producers.
Through its investment, MultiChoice Nambia hopes to offer more inclusivity in terms of opportunities as well as celebrate the creative efforts of women filmmakers who make an immeasurable contribution to the enrichment of the industry.
Through the MultiChoice and NBC collaboration, we aim to also highlight the amazing abilities of women in the film so that future generations will be able to hear their voices, learn about their experiences, and be inspired by what they have accomplished.
This is, of course, a great start, and we would encourage women not to be deterred by the many challenges in the industry, but to move forward, have faith in themselves, their scripts, and their work, and embrace the power of networking. We can achieve great things if we come together to empower each other by sharing our knowledge and resources.
Entertainment can be a massive change agent, but its full potential cannot be realized until we accept and elevate the voices and stories of women. Women’s involvement in all facets of the film industry, including writing, directing, producing, and action, not only inspires and encourages women everywhere but also ushers in a future that is fairer and more inclusive for everyone.