Entertainment can be a catalyst for women’s empowerment

Martin Endjala

The MultiChoice Namibia Corporate Affairs Manager, Elzita Beukes, believes entrainment can be a catalyst for women’s empowerment, particularly in an industry that is dominated by men.

“As we reflect on Women’s Day and Embrace Equity, let’s consider how entertainment can help shift thinking and make a positive impact on the lives of women,” she adds on the occasion of the celebration of International Women’s Day. Beukes says 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.

Further stating that 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, she goes on, it’s vital to view entertainment as more than simply passing 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.

Furthermore, Beukes notes that the narrative seems to be changing today with shows like Grown Woman, Yellowstone and Lioness portraying strong women challenging stereotypes and highlighting potential.

Where stronger women are seen 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.

Beukes is therefore of the opinion that a 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 own 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,”, Beukes emphasises.

Meanwhile, Beukes says even though Africa has seen the largest growth in commercial filmmaking with Nollywood generating 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 realising the importance of gender equality and women are being given opportunities that would have been completely inaccessible in the past.

The MultiChoice Namibia and Namibia Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) Mukorob Film project, for example, which commissioned the production of 13 local films, boasts seven local female producers.

Through its investment, MultiChoice Namibia 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. In collaboration with NBC, it aims to highlight the amazing abilities of women in filming 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, Beukes appreciates, encouraging 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,” says emphasising that entertainment can be a massive change agent, but its full potential cannot be realised 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 acting, Beukes says that it does not only inspires and encourages women everywhere but also ushers in a future that is fairer and more inclusive for everyone.

He also reaffirms Namibia’s commitment to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all spheres of the economy in STEM-related fields. Maintaining that technology and innovation should be deployed as enablers of gender equality for an inclusive Namibian House.

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