Category Archives: Status of Women

5 Girl Activists


How to Encourage Girls in STEM fields

Recent Middle Eastern Gender Attitudes: Women’s Place is in the Home

A survey that doesn’t offer much hope for the future, the UN Women and Promundo survey of 10,000 people in Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine reported in 2017 that 87 percent of Egyptian men and 77 percent of Egyptian women believed that women’s role is to “care for the home” and 90 percent of men and 58.5 percent of women believed that men should make the final decisions (El-Behary, 2017). Over half the men and one-third of women thought that women sometimes deserve to be beaten and half the women and 70 percent of men supported female genital cutting (FGM). Only a quarter of the men and 42 percent of women believed that women should have the same freedom to access the Internet.

Younger men were not more liberal; the study authors suggested that the difficult economic situation produced a backlash as unemployed men feel insecure about their masculinity and they were raised in an increasingly conservative Islamic climate. Younger men were more opposed to women politicians than older men. About half of the women in the four countries also had traditional views, although educated people are more likely to support gender equality.

On the hopeful side of the survey, two-thirds of Egyptian men surveyed supported gender equity in education, equal pay for both genders and were willing to work with women. Three-quarters of Egyptian women wanted the same right to work; however, the study showed that almost 90 percent of women believed that men’s employment is more important “if employment is scarce,” which it is. Many more Egyptian women believed that women could be the leaders of political parties, 76 percent compared to 39 percent of men.  As long as Egyptians vote for a military “pharaoh” inequality will remain.

El-Behary, H. (May 8, 2017). 87 percent of Egyptian men believe women’s basic role is to be housewives. The Independent. Retrieved from

Suggested Reading

Nermin Allam. Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2017

Mona Prince and Samia Mehrez. Revolution Is My Name: An Egyptian Woman’s Diary from Eighteen Days in Tahrir by 2015. (Prince ran for president of Egypt in 2012.) Cairo, Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press, 2015.

Samia Mehrez. Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir. Cairo, Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press, 2012.

Samia Mehrez, ed. Arts and the Uprising in Egypt: the Making of a Culture of

Ahdaf Soueif. Cairo: My City, Our Revolution. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012.

Films About Young People by Country

Films About Young People


Osama. About a 12-year-old girl whose widowed mother disguises her as a boy so they can go outside—based on a true story, the first Afghan film after the fall of the Taliban. 2003

Kandahar. About an Afghani girl who grows up in Canada, but returns to Afghanistan to find her sister under the Taliban regime. 2001

Kite Runner: Takes place in Afghanistan in the 1970s, about a Pashtun boy and underclass Hazara boy. 2007

Buzhashi Boys. Short film about two 14-year-old friends in Kabul who struggle to survive in the context of the national sport of a kind of horse polo. 2012


Valentin. Features an 8-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother, who dies. He makes friends with helpful adults. 2004


December Boys. About four orphans in the 1960s on a holiday at the beach. 2007

Rabbit-Proof Fence. True story about three indigenous girls (ages 8-14) who are kidnapped and taken to a missionary school in the 1930s because they are half white, and escape to travel hundreds of miles on foot with no food, water or map to get back home. The girls had no previous experience as actors. 2002

Mary & Max. A Claymation feature film about a pen-friendship between Mary, a chubby lonely eight-year-old girl living in Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44-year-old, obese man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in New York. 2009

My Year Without Sex. A couple with two young children deal with consumer pressures to be sexy and sexual and struggle to stay in the middle class after the wife suffers a brain aneurysm. Her doctor tells her not to have sex for a year. 2008


City of God shows crime life in a favela/slum in Rio. 2002

Bus 174: A documentary about a former street kid who hijacks a city bus in Rio. 2003

Caminho das Nuvens: The Middle of the World. A poor, illiterate family ride their bikes 2,000 miles to Rio de Janeiro to look for work. The teen-age son leaves the family to work as a bricklayer. 2003

Favela Rising. A former drug-dealer uses hip-hop music and Afro-Brazilian dance for social change for youth. 2005

City of Men. About two 18-year-old boys who grew up in the slums. 2007

Only When I Dance. 18-year-old Irlan succeeds as a ballet dancer, stating, “My greatest desire is to give my parents a better life.” Isabela, 17, struggles less successfully to leave slum life behind. Her dark skin keeps her from being accepted in a Brazilian dance company. 2009


Map of the Human Heart. About an Eskimo boy Avik, nicknamed Holy Boy, by a New Zealand filmmaker. It shows his corruption by Western culture. 1993

Saint Ralph. A teen boy’s father dies and his mother is in a coma in the 1950s. He wants to perform a miracle for her by winning a marathon race. 2004

Whole New Thing. Emerson, a brillian 13-year old boy, has been home-schooled in rural Nova Scotia. His parents send him to middle school for help with math. He develops a crush on his male English teacher. He doesn’t like labels, says he’s not gay, but sends his teacher a love sonnet. 2005

Monsieur Lazhar. An Algerian immigrant takes over as a teacher in a middle school in Montreal after the previous teacher committed suicide. 2012.


Machuca. The film takes place in 1973, when the first socialist president democratically elected in a Latin-American country, President Salvador Allende is murdered. The story is about an upper-class boy who meets a lower-class boy when their Catholic school is integrated. Their friendship is torn apart by the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. 2004


The Road Home. An 18-year-old girl in a mountain village falls in love with the new 20-year-old schoolteacher. There’s no kissing in this love story, just lots of eye contact and cooking food for him. 1999

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.  During the Cultural Revolution, two intellectual city boys are sent to the countryside. We see the impact of the country on them, and vice versa, especially the young seamstress who falls in love with reading the books they secretly brought with them. 2005

Stolen Life. This film shows the class system where city people look down on rural peasants. A freshman university student is corrupted by a scheming boyfriend. 2005

Mao’s Last Dancer: An Australian film about a peasant boy—the sixth son in his family—who is raised during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, training in Beijing to be a ballet dancer. The film is based on his autobiography, with flash backs from his rural boyhood to dancing in Texas. 2009

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. About the friendship of two women in present day Shanghai and two close women friends in the 19th century, played by the same actresses. The historical friends were bound in a Laotong agreement of sisterly love and wrote to each other in a secret language. Filmed in China, but produced by Chinese Americans. 2011


Kolya. A five-year-old Russian boy is cared for by a Czech bachelor during the Russian occupation in the 1980s. 1996

Eritria (East Africa)

Heart of Fire. Supposedly based on a true story about an Eritrean child-soldier, played by a 10-year-old actual refugee. 2008


Au Revoir Les Enfants. Tells the story of three Jewish boys who are taken from their school by the Nazis in 1944. 1987

Poinette. A girl who goes to live with her aunt and cousins when her mother dies. 1996.

To Be and to Have. A documentary about a dedicated teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in a rural French village. 2003

Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink). A 7-year-old boy likes to dress up in girls’ clothing. 1997

400 Blows. Francois Truffaut’s film takes place in a cruel boarding school. The young adolescent boy descends into petty crime. 1959

Amelie. An introverted young women works in a Paris cafe and tries to help others. 2001

Blame it on Fidel. Anna is a 9-year-old girl in Paris in 1970. She has to cope with many changes when her parents become radical activists. 2006

The Fox and the Child. A 10-year-old girl explores nature in the mountains of Southern France. She is very brave, scaring away a wolf pack, an eagle, and a bear in her defense of a fox she gradually tames. The narration is in English. 2007

A Ma Soeur! Portrays the relationship between two sisters; 15-year-old Elena isn’t kind to her overweight 12-year-old sister Anais. 2001

The Kid with a Bike. An 11-year-old boy is abandoned by his father and finds a kind hairdresser to care for him. 2011

Hugo is set in 1930s Paris, about an orphaned boy who lives in a train station. 2011, US film.

Blue is the Warmest Color. A high school girl’s life expands when she meets a blue-haired lesbian a few years older. 2013


Beyond Silence. A girl raised by deaf-mute parents develops a love of playing clarinet. 1996

Run, Lola, Run. A girl helps her boyfriend raise money he has lost, with three different scenarios. 1998.

Goodbye Lenin. This takes place before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall in East Berlin, 1989-1990. 2003

India (includes non-Indian films about Indians)

Dil Chahta Hai. Three recent college graduates (played by actors in their 30s) explore their friendship and their beliefs about romantic love. They live with their wealthy families in Mumbai. They settle down with their female partners in the end.

Bend it Like Beckham. A 18-year-old Punjabi Sheik girl is a good soccer player, but her parents don’t think its proper for an Indian girl to run around in shorts, even though they live in London, but she persists. 2002

Born in Brothels. This film follows the stories of several children growing up in the red-light district of Calcutta, and the impact made on them when they are given cameras to record their daily lives. 2004

Water. About exploitation of child widows abandoned by their families in India during the time of Gandhi in the 1930s. 2005

The same writer/director made Fire (1996) and Earth (1998). A book describing the challenges of making Water in religious India is titled Shooting Water and was written by the director’s daughter.

Slumdog Millionaire. A slum boy ends up on a quiz show. 2008

Like Stars on Earth. A Mumbai family lives the modern dream with a successful businessman and a stay-at-home wife who gave up her career to care for her two sons. They don’t realize their youngest son is failing in school because he is dyslexic and send him off to boarding school where his art teacher names his learning disability. 2007

Namesake. After an arranged marriage in Calcutta, the couple comes to New York for his work. The film is about their two children’s attempts to integrate Indian and American culture. 2007

Outsourced. An unexceptional American film about an American man who is sent to manage Indian workers in a call center near Mumbai. He learns about the importance of time with family and other Indian traditions. 2006

Life of Pi. A popular film about a teenage Indian boy who survives being shipwrecked in a boat with a tiger. The first-time actor who plays Pi was 17-year-old Suraj Sharma from New Delhi. It explores the idea that there are multiple ways to look at philosophical questions and religion. 2012


Children of Heaven. Brother Ali loses his sister Zahra’s school shoes and the children try to figure out how to share shoes so they can both go to school. Farsi language. 1997

Ten. About a woman taxi driver in Tehran and her conversation with her passengers, including her son who is upset over his parents’ divorce. It reveals women’s issues as the boy is the only male in the film. 2002

Leila. A modern young couple in Tehran face traditional pressures when she finds out she can’t conceive a baby, so they find a second wife for him. 2000

The Color of Paradise. An 8-year-old blind boy is raised by his grandmother after his father rejects him. 2000

Offside. Girls try to disguise themselves as boys so they can sneak into a soccer stadium, but they’re caught. 2007


Turtles Can Fly: After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a brother and sister and other Kurdish orphans make money by digging up live mines and selling them. They are often are missing limbs due to exploding bombs. Very sad, also about the rape and pregnancy of a young girl. 2004


Unsettled. It tells the story of the eviction of young Israelis and their families from the Gaza Strip at the end of the almost 40-year Israeli occupation and return to the Palestinians. 2007

Five Broken Cameras. Mostly filmed by a West Bank farmer about the encroachment of Israeli settlements and the impact on his family. 2012

The documentary Jerusalem follows three teen girls in Jerusalem who are Jewish, Christian and Muslim. 2013


Nobody Knows. Four abandoned kids, ages 5 to 12. make it on their own in a small apartment in Tokyo. The 12-year-old older brother takes over as head of the family. 2004

Honey and Clover. It portrays the relationships of five Hama art college students. 2006

I Wish. Two young brothers live apart with their divorced mother or father and try to get them back together. 2012


Captain Abu Raed is about a janitor who tries to enliven the difficult lives of the children in his neighborhood with imaginative travel stories. 2008


Nairobi Half Life. A young aspiring actor, Mwas, migrates from a village in rural Kenya to Nairobi and is exposed to slum life and gang crime. (2102)

South Korea

A Tale of Two Sisters. Two sisters go to live with their father and mean stepmother. 2005

In Between Days is about a young girl from South Korea and her lonely coming of age in Canada. 2006

Comrade Kim Goes Flying. A young female coal miner in North Korea wants to be an acrobat and succeeds. Europeans helped make the film. 2012


Where Do We go Now? Christian and Muslim women work together for peace in their village. 2011


The Zone. A walled compound of wealthy families in Mexico City is broken into by three teenage boys who try to steal from one of the homes. One of slum boys, Miguel, hides out and is befriended by another teen who lives in the compound, Alejandro. The film shows the gap between rich and poor, how the police can be bribed and how the rich take justice into their own hands. It’s violent. 2007

Which Way Home. A documentary about children riding freight trains to reunite with their families in the US. In Spanish, by American filmmakers. The film follows several unaccompanied child migrants from Honduras and El Salvador. 2009


Mongolian Ping Pong. Boys find a ping-pong ball in a creek and think it has magical special powers. 2005

The Cave of the Yellow Dog. A girl finds a puppy but her father won’t let her keep it. 2005

The Story of the Weeping Camel. A family of nomadic shepherds raises a white camel calf. 2004

The Eagle Huntress. A documentary about the first girl in Monglolia to become an eagle hunger. (It includes a study guide.[i]) 2016

New Zealand

Whale Rider, the Whangara Maori people believe their savior ancestor rode home on the back of a whale and that leadership goes to first-born males believed to be his ancestor. A young girl, Pai, challenges this tradition. 2002


Emmanuelle’s Gift, the true story of a teenager who bicycled all over Nigeria with only one leg to raise funds and awareness/rights for the disabled in that country, who generally had no rights and no income. 2005

Monday’s Girls. About modern vs. traditional reaction to a young women’s initiation ceremony. 1993

War Dance. Children in a refugee camp in northern Uganda compete in their country’s national music and dance festival. 2007


Paradise Now is about two Palestinian men who are best friends preparing for a suicide attack in Israel. 2005


4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days takes place in the late 1980s before the fall of Communism when abortion was illegal. Two university students try to arrange for an abortion when one of them gets pregnant. 2007

Saudi Arabia

Wadjda. The first Saudi film by a woman filmmaker, in which a 10-year-old girl lives in Riyadh with her young mother who struggles with her absenteeism husband who is looking for a second wife to give him a son. Wadjda wants to buy a bicycle to race a neighborhood boy, hoping to win her school’s Quran recitation competition to win the cash prize. She gets in trouble at her school for her independence. 2012 (A clip is available.)[ii]

South Africa

Yesterday. An illiterate Zulu farmwoman, whose husband works in the mines in Johannesburg, learns she had AIDS. She is determined to stay alive until her daughter starts school. Shows village life. 2004

Beat the Drum is about orphans who live on the streets of Johannesburg. 2002

Skin. The film documents the life of a girl with darker skin and curly hair born to white parents during apartheid in the 1960s. The authorities want to classify her as “colored” even though her parents are white. 2002


Butterfly. A boy starts school in the 1930s. His life is disrupted by the fascist takeover of government. 1982

Carol’s Journey. A12-year-old moves from New York to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Her mother is dying and her father is fighting with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.  She resists fascism. 2002


God Grew Tired of Us. Documentary about three of the lost boys of Sudan who walked for five years to escape war and ended up in the US. 2006

Lost Boys of Sudan. A documentary about two orphaned young boys to who make it to the US. 2004.


My Life as a Dog. A troubled boy who is upset about the loss of a parent pretends he is a dog. 1985

Fanny and Alexander.  In the early 1900s, a brother and sister’s father dies and their mother remarries a stern stepfather. 1982

Simple Simon is a comedy about 18 year old with Asperger syndrome, who is cared for by his brother and his girlfriend. 2010.


Yi Yi: A One and a Two. Shows the issues facing an urban middle-class family in Taipei. The family includes dual-career parents, a teen daughter and a boy, aged 8. 2006


Bliss. This tells the story of an ex-commando who is ordered by his family to kill his 17-year-old cousin, an “honor killing,” because she was raped and “tainted.” It contrasts the differences between rural and urban lifestyles and shows the girl’s increasing strength in standing up for herself. 2007

United Kingdom

To Sir, With Love. Sidney Poiter plays a black teacher who gives up an engineering job to work with poor white students in an inner-city school in London. 1967

Millions. An 8-year-old Irish boy finds a suitcase full of money. 2005

Billy Elliott. A coal miner’s son, aged 11, loves ballet and starts studying in secret to be a dancer.  The film is set in 1984. 2000

About a Boy. A 12-year-old boy has a depressed single mother and becomes attached to a self-centered bachelor who gradually matures. 2002

The Girl in the Café. A young woman becomes friends with a British civil servant and accompanies him to the G-8 summit, where she becomes obsessed with the plight of children all over the world who are dying for preventable reasons. She keeps interrupting their formal G-8 social events to confront them about their refusal to take action. Includes information about child poverty. 2005

I Capture the Castle. Teenage sisters grow up in the 1930s an eccentric and impoverished English family. Their dad is a famous writer who has writer’s block. 2003

Driving Lesson, 2006. A 17-year-old British boy learns to stand up for himself, with the help of an older woman. It’s a difficult time for him as his parents quarrel and break up.

Princess Kailuani, 2010. The story of a young Hawaiian princess’ fight against the annexation of Hawaii by the US in the late 19th century. She said, “Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people.”

Submarine. About a Welch boy named Oliver and his relationship with classmate Jordana in the 1980s. 2011

United States

Pump up the Volume. A high school student starts an FM pirate radio station in Phoenix. 1990

Almost Famous. A teenage boy writes for Rolling Stone magazine covering a rock band in 1973. 2000

Bully. A documentary about youth bullying and social media. It follows five young people and their families over a year. The film “offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children.” 2012.

Harold and Maude tells the story of Harold, a wealthy teenager and his friendship with Maude, age 79, as they attend funerals together. 1971

Bruno. An 8-year-old boy has a dream about an angel and concludes that, like angels, he should wear dresses, which he calls holy vestments, even in spelling bees. There’s lots of resistance from the nuns at his Catholic school and from his police officer father, but his mother and grandmother back him up and he wins the national bee. 2000

Freedom Writers. A true story, it answers the question, “What was so great about Anne Frank’s writing?”  The other theme is that seeing kids as whole people can turn the worst racist gang members into inspired creators. The kids and the teacher have started a foundation to spread her methods.

The Great Debaters. Based on a true story about a 1930s debate team at a black college in Texas. 2007

Quinceañera. A Mexican-American girl in Los Angeles prepares for her 15th birthday. 2007

Moonrise Kingdom. A 12-year-old boy and girl runaway to escape the unhappy adult world they see around them. It takes place in 1965 on a New England island. 2012

Remember the Titans. A black coach works with a Virginia high school football team of black and white players in 1971. 2000

School of Rock.  A rock singer forms a band with his fifth-grade students to compete in a contest. 2003

Little Women. Four sisters grow up Massachusetts during the time of the Civil War, while their father is fighting in the war. 1994

The Devil’s Playground.  A documentary about Amish youth who are brought up in a restricted environment (no education past 8th grade, no cars). When they’re 16 they’re turned loose to experience all the decadent delights the world has to offer, including drugs, sex, drinking, and cars. Then they have to decide if they want to give it all up and become Amish for the rest of their lives, or try to make it on their own (with no education and no family support of any kind) in the outside world. 2002

In America. An Irish immigrant family comes to live in a tenement in New York City, told from the point of view of the little girls. 2003

Liar, Liar. A little boy is disgusted by his lawyer father lying all the time, and makes a birthday wish that he has to tell the truth for 24 hours. It exposes the lies that are part of the adult world. 1997

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. A very intelligent 11-year-old boy who was inconclusively tested for Asperger’s Syndrome, is obsessive about trying to find a lock that will fit a key he found in his father’s closet after his father was killed in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Towers. 2011

The Boys of Baraka. A documentary about a school in Africa where delinquent black teenage boys from Baltimore are sent to help them get on track, and they do. The funding for the school is cut due to political upheaval.

Hanna. This action film is about a 14-year-old genetically bred to be a super warrior. Not only an outstanding warrior, she also has a super memory and knows many languages. She is a killer who wants to stop the killing as she travels from Finland to Morocco to Germany. The actress who played her is 18 and grew up in Ireland. 2011

Margaret. The story of a 17-year–old girl in New York City who struggles with the moral ramifications of having witnessed an accident. 2011.

Beasts of the Southern Wild. A six-year-old black girl lives ion an island in the Louisiana bayou with her alcoholic and sick father in poverty without electricity, both of them first-time actors. Her father refers to her as “man,” and teaches her to be a tough survivor. 2012


War Dance. Ugandan schools compete in music competition. The focus is on kids from a refugee camp from the Acholi tribe. Some of the children were forced to be soldiers and some are orphans. 2006


Hermano. Two teenaged soccer players live in a Caracas slum, one of them is in a gang. 2012


Buffalo Boy. A 15-year-old buffalo herder deals with six-month floods during the rainy season in the 1940s. 2003

Owl and the Sparrow. A 10-year-old orphan girl lives on the streets of Saigon. American director, 2006


Global Voices is a collection of international documentaries, many of which focus on youth. Some can be viewed online or the WORLD TV channel.


This website lists free videos about girls internationally:


Other lists of films about global youth:

US films are listed in Generation Multiplex: The Image of Youth in Contemporary American Cinema. University of Texas Press, 2002.

Timothy Shary and Alexandra Seibel. Youth Culture in Global Cinema. University of Texas Press, 2006. They list over 700 international films.

The authors list themes about global youth films in Appendix B. They select these films as classics due to the fame of their stars and/or directors; Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel, Mexico, 1950), Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1955), Aparajito/The Unvanquished (Satyajit Ray, India, 1957), Les Quatre cents coups/The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, France, 1959), Ivanovo Detstvo/Ivan’s Childhood (Andrei Tarkovsky, Soviet Union, 1962), Walkabout (Nicholas Roeg, Australia, 1971), Diabolo menthe/Peppermint Soda (Diane Kurys, France, 1977), Mitt liv som hund/My Life as a Dog (Lasse Hallstrôm, Sweden, 1985), Au revoir les enfants/Goodbye Children (Louis Malle, France, 1987), and Europa Europa/Agnieszka (Holland, Poland, 1990).




Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, beats #4 Democrat in NYC Primary

Signaling the importance of staying in touch with the grassroots, a 20-year member of Congress, the chair of the Democratic Caucus and in line to be Speaker, Joseph Crowley (age 56) was defeated in the June 2018 primary. He sent a substitute for a debate with his opponent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, leading to criticism from the New York Times editorial board. An educator working with high school students (a graduate of Boston University), Ocasio-Cortez said she spent two years talking with the voters in the New York City district, which is half Hispanic—she’s fluent in Spanish. She recruited volunteers to campaign in six languages.

She posted a viral video titled “The Courage of Change” where she said, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.” She writes her own social media with a large Twitter following. She has a Puerto Rican mother, was born in the Bronx, is only 28, ran her first race against Crowley, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, supports Black Lives Matter, and was outspent by at least 10 to 1. Before she ran, “I felt like the only way to effectively run for office is if you had access to a lot of wealth, high social influence, a lot of high dynastic power, and I knew that I didn’t have any of those things.”[i] What changed her mind was her participation in the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Pipe line in 2016. The day she got back home, a national organization called Brand New Congress asked her to run for Congress. Ocasio-Cortez advocates eliminating ICE, universal healthcare, a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public colleges, and making living in New York City affordable. Echoing the recent progressive emphasis on values, she said, “For me, it’s all about leading with our values and leading with our issues…in a moral society.” Hopeful, she says, “We are never beyond repair.” (She and Cynthia Nixon, candidate for governor, endorsed each other.)

[i] Gabriella Paiella, “The 28-Year-Old at the Center of One of This Year’s Most Exciting Primaries,” The Cut, June 25, 2018.