“Tell It Like A Woman” Movie Screening Event
3 March 2023
(click here for the Press Release)
- Welcoming remarks by the Permanent Representative of Italy, Ambassador Maurizio Massari
Good evening everyone,
I welcome you to this special event that Italy is hosting with UN Women, represented today by the Executive Director Sima Bahous – thank you Sima for being with us – and the non-profit We Do It Together, represented by its founder Chiara Tilesi.
I’d like to thank the Under-Secretary General Melissa Fleming for being with us, as well as my other fellow speakers and co-sponsoring Missions: the Ambassadors of Argentina, Chile, Japan, United Kingdom and United States.
Last but not least, I welcome to the UN the all-women cast of directors and lead actresses that will join in the conversation after the screening.
March at the UN and in the world, is traditionally a month to spotlight women. And what better way to do it than leaving them the stage, letting them tell us their stories.
This film touches upon a theme of universal concern for each of us, gender equality, women empowerment, fight against women discrimination and violence. A universal theme, which does not know borders: west, east, north, south and which is a part also, of course, of our common agenda, the 2030 Agenda. It is part of our common destiny and it’s something that unite us all. We all know that to achieve this common goal of gender equality we are lagging behind, according to the UN assessment it will take, at the current pace, 300 years to reach the gap in terms of gender equality. Therefore, our common commitment has to grow stronger until we reach the ultimate goal of zero violence and gender equality, together we can make it happen. Cinema speaks a universal language, understandable to all; Tell It Like a Woman sends a powerful message already in its title, women stories through women voices. I hope you will enjoy the film and I wish you a very nice evening.
- Opening remarks by Ms. Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.
Hello everybody, it is so wonderful to see this room so packed, for this amazing film and for the cause of women’s equality in film.
His Excellency, Ambassador Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations;
Her Excellency, María del Carmen Squeff, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations;
And other sponsors, including Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women,
Chiara Tilesi, Producer and Founder of We Do It Together,
Filmmakers, actors, film fans; it is great to have you all gathered here in the General Assembly Hall of United Nations.
Cinema has tremendous power. Everyone here knows that. Stories told on the big screen stick. They stick to our minds, and they stick to our attitudes, and they also stick to our actions.
Movies inspire people and they drive progress and that’s how they can change the world, but they can also do the opposite. They can reinforce harmful narratives and they can also entrench inequalities.
We are used to a world in which the male gaze directs the movie camera.
A world where women rarely get to tell their stories.
Instead, stories get told about them. Stories in which, for the most part, the gender power dynamic is seriously out of whack.
We all know the tropes, the stories that objectify and marginalize women.
Exceptions only prove the rules. UN Women says that only 23 percent of films feature women protagonists, so think about that.
31 percent of speaking roles are held by women.
This movie, “Tell it Like A Woman,” is a rare and powerful exception. A film in which women tell their own stories.
Stories that aren’t tropes or stereotypes. Stories of real women, struggling, overcoming adversity, getting back on track, and giving back.
So taken together, these stories offer a powerful message of strength and unity. But unfortunately, these kinds of movies remain all too rare.
There are signs of hope, of course and signs the industry is changing. Female driven movies are going mainstream and films made by and starring women are making a big impact.
But there’s no denying change has been slow. And this isn’t just a film industry problem. Allow me to expand this a little bit because we are at the UN and I do want to use this opportunity on behalf of women.
Because wherever we look, the narrative gets women wrong. Sometime, it ignores them altogether. It’s not just in the movies. It’s politics, sport, business, science.
Women are under-represented also in media, only four percent of news stories clearly challenge gender stereotypes and the rest reinforce inequality. These are the stories the society tells itself about women.
Harm, disrespect, violence, and marginalization are the results.
The UN Secretary-General Guterres has said and repeatedly stressed that: “Everywhere in the world, women and girls face the greatest threats and the deepest harm.”
The pandemic sparked an epidemic of domestic abuse. Worsening conflicts around the world have also hit women and children hardest.
Women’s rights are backsliding and women’s voices are disappearing from view.
Unfortunately, also authoritarians and extremists are weaponizing misogyny to silence critics. Last year, UNESCO surveyed women journalists around the world.
Seventy-three percent of them said they had experienced online violence. I know, I am throwing a lot of percentages at you. Try to fathom this: if you are a woman, you are a journalist, you are working online. Three quarters of you are likely to have experienced online violence and twenty percent had been attacked offline too.
The aim of these attacks is clear. To crush female voices and shrink democratic spaces. They are targeted because they are on the frontlines of the fight for equality.
Some of the most vicious attacks come when women stand up for women’s rights. These attacks are making women think twice.
In the worst cases, women decide not to raise their voices, to join politics, or to pursue leadership roles. The effect that people used to describe this is a “chilling effect”.
Yet there are many brave women who refuse to be silenced. They persist, with courage, resilience, and commitment.
We owe them a better response. So far, frankly, that response has been woeful.
When women speak up about abuse, online or offline, they are often victim-blamed.
Women are still asked what they did to provoke the attacks.
Online, especially, we need a sea change in awareness. To shift to the perpetrators, those who are abusing women online, and enablers of online violence. We are asking the social media platforms to stop shirking their responsibilities.
Stop making business out of misogynistic.
This must – and can – stop. My team and I are working on this at the UN. I lead communications for the UN, this has become so important for me. We are seeing an information ecosystem that is toxic and we need to clean it up. Women should not be the biggest victims. We are leading a process on developing a Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms.
We will look at ways to limit the impact of gendered disinformation. We hope to make the internet safer for women and all marginalize groups. Thereby make the offline space safer, so that creativity can flourish and women can become leaders.
We have a long way to go. If we want to get there faster, we need to change the narrative about women. This means more women on film on-screen and off-screen.
This movie, and this event, are a fantastic contribution to that work. I’m sure you’ve seen this film, you will agree with me.
We can unite and inspire women to occupy space, on screen and offline. Maybe we can begin to change the story that society is trying to tell of us about us.
- Opening remarks by the Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous
Under-Secretary-General Melissa Fleming, Ambassador Maurizio Massari, Ambassador Carmen Squeff, Ms. Chiara Tilesi, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends:
UN Women is honoured to co-host today’s special event on the screening of “Tell It Like a Woman”. I extend a warm welcome to each and every one of you in this chamber. We are joined this evening by extraordinary women including members of NGOs and civil society organizations, academics, media, students, and especially the actors and directors and producers who are working to move women from object to subject in films.
I would like to congratulate Chiara Tilesi for making this film and to Diane Warren and Sofia Carson for the song “Applause” in the film that received an Oscar nomination, congratulations.
Excellencies, in the media industry, and as we heard from the USG Melissa Fleming, also globally, only 31% of speaking roles are held by women, 21% of filmmakers are women, and 23% of films feature women protagonists. This must change. Women make up half the world’s population, yet they remain invisible in many sectors. The world is not on truck to achieve the sustainable development goals, including sustainable development goal 5 on gender equality. There is worldwide major pushback against women rights and against girl rights. We, all, must pushback against the pushback, ensuring that women are visible in the arts, it is imperative to this goal.
This film comes at a crucial time. We witnessed how COVID-19 pandemic turned from a global health emergency into a socioeconomic crisis with profound effects on women. More recently, we have seen how the many crises impacting the world such as those in Türkiye and Syria, in Ukraine, in Afghanistan and in many other places of the world, they ultimately impact women and girls differently and in many cases more. To better respond to these crises and to our common development challenges, we need to include women’s voices and the full force of their energy and leadership.
I thank the Permanent Mission of Italy for inviting UN Women to be a co-sponsor of this important film screening. Italy is a close partner of UN Women and a powerful advocate for gender equality and I thank your Excellency Ambassador Maurizio Massari. I also thank the Permanent Mission of Argentina for co-sponsoring this, Argentina is also a very close partner of UN Women and I thank her Excellency Ambassador Squeff for being here, with us this evening, despite the very busy period of facilitating the agreed conclusions of the CSW 67th. We wish you Ambassador and CSW 67th all the success.
Dear friends we celebrate two major events next week: the 67th Commission of the Status of Women, and International Women’s Day.
The priority theme of CSW 67 this year it is innovation, technological change and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. The theme calls on us to take a human-centric approach to digitalization. The advances that technology and innovation make possible must be pursued with feminist principles of inclusion, intersectionality, and systematic change, as their goal. We must fight technology-facilitated violence against women in all its forms.
The year’s International Women’s Day is similarly focused on “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” and we, all together, must ensure that innovation, technology, digitalization has women and girls at the very center of it.
I thank you all for coming to watch this film on your Friday evening. My thanks also go to all those who made this possible. Please continue to amplify and carry messages of equality, whether on single motherhood, on ending domestic violence, on LGBTIQ+, so beautifully conveyed in this film, alongside the many others that confront us. Please continue to do this good work and to amplify the voices of women and girls everywhere.
I thank you and enjoy the film.
- Introduction of We Do It Together and the Movie by Chiara Tilesi (Producer, Founder of WDIT)
Ladies and Gentleman,
Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate women together. I would like to thank the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Maurizio Massari and its Mission Spoke person Ludovica Murazzani, the UN Women and its executive Director Sima Bahous and all the governments that joined us in this important endeavor.
In 2015, I founded We Do It Together, a nonprofit film production company, where men and women are united to change the way women are represented in media, from an object to a subject.
Why does this matter?
Because a culture is made of repetition of images, ideas, concepts, which create a belief system, and ultimately will create the cultural DNA of a society.
We could even say “we are what we repeatedly see”.
So what do we see about women in the world? What is the status of women?
2022 is the year where women make, for the first time, 10% of the CEO in the most successful 500 companies after being stuck for years at 8%.
But 2022 is also the year where, in Afghanistan, university education for women was suspended.
Where in Iran, a young woman named Mahsa Amini was killed because her wearing of the hijab was slightly not correct.
Where in a cosmopolitan city like New York, domestic violence on women was 31%.
Where in Brazil, during covid, one woman was raped every 10 minutes, and one murdered every seven hours.
And the list goes on and on.
Clearly, there is a problem, a problem of global proportions, with 50% of the population being abused and victimized.
We must act NOW if we don’t want to wait 300 years to achieve gender equality as estimated by the United Nations.
So where can we start?
Definitely by changing the Culture, because that’s the beginning of any change as history has shown us over and over again.
As filmmakers, we are giving our contribution by creating content that can change the narrative, therefore, the culture.
However, this is not an easy task. Because in the media industry too, there is a big problem of disparity and on top of that there is also the problem of lack of representation.
For example, according to the USC Annenberg study, in the year 2020 women directors were 15% of the top 100 movies.
Then, there was a step back, as usual. In 2021 that number went down to 12.7%, and in 2022, further down, to 9%. It is clear that we have to tackle the problem from all sides.
This is what We Do It Together’s mission is: Produce media content and movies by women, about women, for everyone.
We are 80 of us men and women from different parts of the world, united in one nation, empowering women through movies and media.
And I’m happy to announce that we are in the process of bringing We Do It Together in 2023 to other countries, beginning with Brazil, Italy, India and Saudi Arabia, to give a voice to those women who are not allowed to have one, and become the first nonprofit global studio dedicated to the empowerment of women. So that it doesn’t take years and years just to make a movie.
Tell It Like A Woman is a feature film that represents exactly what We Do It Together does.
A movie directed by 8 extraordinary women directors, with 8 wonderful actresses.
I would like to thank my producers’ partners Lady Monika Bacardi, Lucas Akoskin and a special thanks to Andrea Iervolino for believing in us, in this movie and in our mission since the beginning.
This has been a long journey. It took us six years to produce this movie, through extremely difficult times, but we never gave up because of the beauty and the significance of this film, its powerful message and its social impact.
The theme song of the movie Applause, written by the legendary songwriter Diane Warren, and performed by Sophia Carson, is literally an anthem for all the women of the world and has just received this year an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
I would like to conclude by asking each one of you in this room, game changers, diplomats, and distinguished guests, to please join us now in this critical journey of changing the narrative about women and creating a new paradigm. We need your help so we can all rise up together side by side, we can all have a voice NOW without waiting 300 years and we can make it happen only if We Do It Together.
Without further ado, let’s get started. Please enjoy the movie.