Be a woman

Be a woman

Project Name: Be a Woman

Director: Smriti Basnet

Country: Nepal

Category: Develoment



A young social mobiliser advocating safe abortion for women in her community is compelled by her circumstances to step into an unknown future abroad.



24-year-old Nazma Khatun is a new wave of progressive women in Nepal. Based in Argakhanchi, 365 km west of Kathmandu, she works with fellow villagers, discussing sexual health with an engaging openness. But the daring Nazma who openly discusses a taboo topic now finds herself at odd cross-roads owing to fiscal pressures. She is now leaving Nepal for a job in Qatar. Since she eloped aged 16, Nazma has been on a journey to forge positive change for Nepali women. Then, she was disgusted at the thought of condoms. Seven years on, she talks about contraception and sexual health on a day-to-day basis. The work is of central importance to Nazma, a Muslim with a six-year-old child who was previously anti-contraception. She opens a typical session asking, “Are you shy of saying condoms?”, to be met with restrained giggles. Every week, Nazma sets out to a different village. Most are communities she has visited before; some she has never travelled to. These visits oftentimes also feature visits to health and government officials – mostly to convince them of forming a budget. Somewhere in between, Nazma starts to feel the walls closing in – as she realizes the little financial prosperity in Nepal. While at home, she is constantly reminded of what expected of her -- as a wife, mother, and a Muslim woman in Nepal. Perhaps, fear of never being able to earn enough doing what she loves pushes her to a foreign land? Now each passing day, her vision for a liberated future for herself grows dimmer, and she feels a constant pressure to look out for herself. She quits her job and starts preparing for one in a foreign land: as a beautician. Intimate and interrogative, this documentary explores one story from the countless Nepali lives to have surrendered to the faint prospect of a better life away from home. It aims to explore the entire journey of a migrant worker of what they leave behind optimistically and what they eventually come back with.


Director’s Statement

When I first met Nazma, I wanted to know how she is so bold in a society where women are not allowed to talk openly about such things. On discovering her more, I realized how she is trying to create a space for herself, and for women. However, to be an independent woman, she first has to be a providing mother, a caring daughter-in-law and dutiful daughter. She sees s one possibility: migration. Nepal, like many South Asian countries, experiences out-migration – where people want to find a better future for themselves. In the process of doing so, Nepal loses youths like Nazma who could have created a future here. And for herself, Nazma is compelled to choose her economic future rather than work to secure the many futures of other women. In doing so, she is right. And I am particularly interested to explore this very choice – of what is means to jump into an unknown future.



51568 USD

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