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Chahinaz: What Rights for Women? cover image

Chahinaz: What Rights for Women? 2007

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 202-808-4980
Produced by Samie Chala and Patrice Barrat
Directed by Samie Chala and Patrice Barrat
DVD, color, 52 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Gender Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Women's Studies

Date Entered: 10/15/2008

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

Chahinaz, a young Algerian college student studying architecture, has grave concerns about the restriction of women’s rights due to the government’s Family Law. Chahinaz wants to know how to change her society’s belief in the inherent inequality that should exist between men and women. She bristles against the expectation that women should wear the veil and stay at home. In an effort to effect change in Algeria, Chahinaz decides to find out how women in other countries have brought about equality, or are working to that end. Her quest for information takes her to several continents, both by computer and in person. She talks to a feminist and journalist in India and a conservative young American woman. Exploring the differences in the struggle for women’s rights between East and West, she interviews Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, and the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights. She learns that the UN can’t impose laws which interfere with the sovereignty of states; dialogue between religions and nations needs to take place in order to move countries to improve conditions for women. Lastly, she talks with Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the president of the General Assembly of the UN, who comes from Bahrain. Throughout all of her interviews and dialogues with women in other countries, Chahinaz learns that while women are gaining rights in some places, laws alone do not translate to true equality or necessarily alleviate oppression. Chahinaz’ passion for women’s rights, her caring and intelligence are evident and inspiring as she advises other women to “teach boy’s to respect women and girls to stand up for themselves.”

Audio and video qualities are good. The music soundtrack provides an appropriate background ambience. Subtitles are used in parts of the interviews.

This documentary is suitable for senior high and college classrooms to stimulate discussions about women’s rights and women’s treatment in other countries and cultures. Highly recommended.