May 27, 2024

Media Decoder: A TV Project Planned on Female Leadership

Pewee Flomoku/ITVS Liberian women demonstrate at the American Embassy in Monrovia in 2003, in the series “Women, War and Peace.”

The Independent Television Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are teaming up for a three-year, 50-film project called “Women and Girls Lead,” which will put a documentary spotlight on leadership roles of women and girls and the challenges they face in the United States and worldwide.

Most of the films will be broadcast on PBS, including three multipart series, beginning later this year with “Women, War and Peace,” examining how women have been affected by recent wars and their roles in brokering peace.

A four-hour film version of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” based on the book by the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and
Sheryl WuDunn, will be broadcast in 2012, with the on- and off-camera participation of actresses including
Diane Lane and
America Ferrera.

“Women and Girls Lead” came about when ITVS officials noticed that a number of the films in their pipeline dealt with women’s leadership issues, said Sally Jo Fifer, president and chief executive of ITVS. “When our producers find the pulse together it’s really important to pay attention,” she said.

By highlighting the films in ITVS’s Community Cinema screenings and classroom materials and by working with project partners, she said it was less likely that the films would get lost in the media crush. “We can create a sustained conversation” around the issues they raise, she said. Among the dozens of nonprofit groups aligned with the project are CARE, World Vision and the Girl Scouts of the USA.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is investing $2.7 million in the project, in film financing and outreach work.

“All of it is to in my mind underscore that women and girls have a huge contribution to make to any society,” said Patricia de Stacy Harrison, the corporation’s president and chief executive. The project, she said, will link viewers with ways they can act on the issues raised.

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