Mantis World, in cooperation with London South Bank University (LSBU) and in support of Oxfam’s “Get girls into school” programme to improve education for girls in poor, disaster-hit areas of Pakistan, hosted a screening of “The Honor Diaries” followed by a panel discussion on 19th May at LSBU’s prestigious Keyworth Centre.
The powerful, controversial and inspiring documentary film is the first to break the silence on ‘honour violence’ against women and girls, a cause that Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman have spoken out to support. It features an all-star cast of female human rights activists, including New York Times Bestselling author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who are aiming to improve the treatment of women from a variety of different countries. Freedom of movement, the right to education, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation are some of the abuses explored in depth. The film’s underlying message is that Culture is no Excuse for Abuse.
The event was well attended with over 100 people in the audience from academia, lobbyists, NGOs, human rights organisations, lawyers, banking and finance sector plus a number of promotional merchandise and fashion companies.
Prama Bhardwaj, Founder & CEO of Mantis World comments: “Gender rights are a big consideration to the garment industry, which employs millions of women worldwide. In many countries, the garment industry is one of very few sectors where women without formal training or education can make an honest living. On a recent sourcing trip to Pakistan I was struck by the absence of women in public life – on the factory floor and at every socioeconomic level. The reason I believe is cultural – specifically the culture of “honour”. By shining a light on these issues we hope to raise awareness and social justice for women with a reach far beyond a particular country or industry sector.”
The screening was followed by a lively panel debate and Q&A with specialist speakers, including Shaminder Takhar (LSBU), Donatella Maraschin (LSBU), Kalyani Gandhi Rhodes (Oxfam), Leyla Hussein (Campaigner on FGM and Gender Rights) and Yasmin Rehman (Womens Aid Federation England).
In spite of a fire alarm going off during the networking and refreshments, guests continued their conversations outside on the pavement while Mantis World announced the raffle prize winners. The event raised £3,000 to go towards the education of girls in Pakistan and has created much needed attention to gender inequalities. Mantis World recently embarked on a project to build a training centre for women with their partner factory in Pakistan. The goal is to encourage more women to join the workforce and gain economic independence and raise living standards for themselves and their family. Awareness and interest have been very strong after the event and there is now a Facebook Group for interested parties to post events and news that are relevant.
We are grateful to our sponsors – Fashionflo, premier leisurewear suppliers in Ireland and www.longstoryshortltd.com, videographer and photographer.
Feedback from attendees:
“The night was a great gathering and felt really important.” Roxana Hewett, Personal & Spiritual Development Teacher
“What an inspiration – such incredible brave women. Delighted we could join tonight. Great work” Gill Thorpe, Founder & CEO of The Sourcing Team
“It was certainly informative, shocking and thought provoking and I would like to hear what follows” Julie Melbourn, HSBC
“The film needs to be shown in schools (edited properly). Great panel too” Andy Acton-Peters, Livenation
“My thanks for an excellent event that was really well attended and gave impetus to much discussion and points of view” Kalyani Gandhi-Rhodes, Oxfam
“The idea of ‘honour’ is powerful – both for the good and the bad that it denotes. Honour can underpin pride, integrity and a sense of reciprocity but it has in recent years come to public attention as something associated with violence and ill-treatment of women. The film ‘Honor Diaries’ draws attention to the latter, giving space to activists who have been at the front line of fighting such abuse. I was delighted to be at the showing of this film, having spent years working on the topic, researching and writing about it. I congratulate LSBU, Oxfam and Mantis World for the event and look forward to supporting further work to end the poison of violence against women across the world.“ Dr Purna Sen, London School of Economics
For more information on Honor Diaries, including links to watch the film, visit www.honordiaries.com