Virtual reality film series: Women human rights activists

Date: 08 March 2019

Around the world, women human rights defenders and women’s rights activists fight for the rights and freedoms of women and all individuals, every day. In the course of their work to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, these activists face violence, discrimination and intimidation. This International Women’s Day, UN Women stands in solidarity with the courageous women who are leading the fight, by amplifying their voices with innovative storytelling technology.

These four virtual reality films, produced by Google with the support of UN Women and Vital Voices, give a glimpse into the experiences and struggles of four activists who are fighting to ensure no woman or girl is left behind.

Chief Theresa Kachindamoto

Worldwide, more than 700 million girls alive today were married before their eighteenth birthday (UNICEF). Child marriage has devastating impacts on the realization of the rights of the child, from her right to an adequate education, to her right to sexual and reproductive health. Chief Theresa Kachindamoto has annulled 3,500 child marriages in the central region of Malawi and has helped girls to complete their education, often by subsidizing their schooling. Working with UN Women, the government, civil society and traditional leaders, Chief Kachindamoto contributed to the February 2017 adoption of a constitutional amendment raising the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years. These achievements are against all odds—as the first woman leader in her village and in a village where child marriage is deeply embedded in cultural practice, Chief Kachindamoto’s fight for cultural change has required determination, leadership and persistence.

Lydia Cacho

Women human rights defender, author and journalist, Lydia Cacho, has dedicated her career to investigating and exposing human trafficking, sexual violence and impunity. Through her shelter, El Centro Integral de Atención a las Mujeres, Cacho provides a safe space for survivors of trafficking, domestic violence and other forms of abuse and exploitation to access health, legal and other support services. Cacho’s work for human dignity and equality has been fraught with challenges—she has been raped, assaulted, harassed, kidnapped and received death threats. Yet, Cacho refuses to be silenced.

Asha Kowtal

At least 250 million people worldwide face discrimination on the basis of caste and systems of inherited status. Dalit women and girls sit at the bottom of the caste, color and gender hierarchies—they are systematically denied opportunities and enjoyment of basic human rights from access to adequate food, education and labor to the denial of their human dignity. As the General Secretary of the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (All India Dalit Women’s Rights Platform)I Asha Kowtal leads the fight against oppression of Dalit women and girls. In the face of resistance, Kowtal continues to give voice to Dalit women and their aspiration for equality.

Alice Johnson

More than 700,000 women and girls are imprisoned globally—a number that has more than doubled since 2000. For many women, the path to prison stems from inequality, including a lack of economic opportunities, and their struggle to escape violence and abuse. Alice Johnson was a non-violent offender who was sentenced to life imprisonment. Throughout her prison sentence, she advocated for criminal justice reform, including for women’s access to ICT education and vocational training. Since she was granted clemency in June 2018, she has continued to raise awareness of the situation of women in prison systems. Johnson’s fight for freedom has helped to raise the voices of incarcerated women around the world.