Kiwis’ attitudes towards gender equality is set to feature on the international stage as a new documentary featuring former Prime Minister Helen Clark and other prominent New Zealand women, screens over the coming weeks.
Revolt She Said, by Kiwi filmmaker Louise Lever, which opens on International Women’s Day, is a controversial film on contemporary feminism in New Zealand and Australia.
It features raw and compelling insights into the current feminist revolution by some of the country’s key figures including; Helen Clark, journalist Alison Mau, artist and advocate Lizzie Marvelly and leading academic Dr Pani Farvid.
Following its release in Australasia, the film will be screened at the Montreal Independent Film Festival, Chicago Indie Film festival and the Montreal Women’s International Film Festival.
Lever describes the documentary as a “call to arms” and hopes to inspire a new generation of women to continue the fight of their forebears.
“It is my true hope that people will see the film, especially young women and decide; ‘I’m worth it. My voice is powerful, I am visible.’ I hope that women will revolt and men will join them.”
Lever points to the World Economic Forum which shows that gender equality will not be seen in our lifetimes and gender parity in economics is more than 257 years away.
“It’s an embarrassment to live in a so-called ‘liberal democracy’ where one gender is profoundly unequal and I think we’ve had enough,” she says.
Clark is forthright when discussing the difficulties facing modern women and New Zealand’s poor reputation globally for gender-based domestic and familial violence.
“I think to be a feminist, you’ve got to have an innate characteristic of being a fighter because you have to campaign, you have to jostle, you can’t be passive and inert.
“We have to make sure that there really is a real choice for all women to choose the lives that they want to lead. Do they want both family and career; are we making that as possible as we should for women,” says Clark.
“I am very unhappy, that our country, has one of the highest rates in the OECD for domestic and gender-based and family violence. This is wrong… until we get over that, then we can’t really say we’ve achieved gender equality for women, because beating up women is an attitude that says it’s okay to do this, and it isn’t. That’s a profoundly unequal set of attitudes,” she says.
Alison Mau says there is an urgent need for more discussion and greater action in addressing gender inequity.
“If I hear one more person say, we were the first to give women the vote, I think I’ll scream. That’s wonderful, but it happened in the 1890s, and we have problems here today, that haven’t been resolved, that affect more than half of the population,” she says.
Lever’s film also features coming out stories from the LGBTQIA+ community as well as exploring themes of identity, gender, politics, queer identity, power and women’s roles.
“We need a rainbow of diverse voices to change things. Discomfort is part of change and it’s no good if we’re unable as a society to debate complex ideas. With social media things are often discussed in a few sound bites. That’s not life. I want to encourage people to log-off, open the door, get outside and revolt, protest, be loud, make people uncomfortable – that is where the magic happens,” says Lever.