100 years of having a right to vote… Azerbaijani women do have a great reason to celebrate. The women of Azerbaijan have made endless contributions throughout the history of our statehood. The Embassy of Switzerland in Azerbaijan has financed a documentary “Republican Women Daring to Change”, as a dedication to the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Azerbaijan.
Produced by the Women’s Association for Rational Development (WARD), the film describes the situation of Azerbaijani women over the last century. In this journey through different historical periods, the focus is on the political contribution of women during the most important historical moments of the country. In each era, outstanding female role models of their time are introduced. This awareness-raising journey, using a lot of rare archive materials, ends with the question which challenges are still faced by women today and which opportunities are open to them in the 21st century.
“The idea to have a documentary about women’s contribution to the development of the Republic of Azerbaijan emerged as we were discussing the upcoming 100th birthday of the first Republic, the foundation of which also granted the Azerbaijani women the right to vote – and equal rights in general. You may know that in Switzerland women received the right to vote as late as 1971 – we can definitely learn a lot from Azerbaijan in this regard. Together with our local partner organizations we then realized that there was not much documentation available telling the story of women in Azerbaijan, and more importantly: their political, social and economic contribution 100 and more years ago. We learnt surprising facts about the struggle to open schools for girls, about very daring and big hearted women taking on a lot of responsibility in their society – and the story about Baku Bulvar and how women conquered it in 1919. They literally had to conquer it, as previously they were not allowed to access it. After shedding light on the past, using very rare materials from the archives, the movie zooms in on the modern era, where women enjoy unprecedented rights and opportunities, globally speaking, but also here in Azerbaijan. The movie is also an invitation to discuss what holds women back until today and how to overcome such obstacles. We as Swiss embassy are happy and proud to present a movie produced by a team of Azerbaijani women on the topic on Azerbaijani women – in Azerbaijani language. It is a true première in many senses and you are all invited to witness it!”, says Dr. Simone Haeberli, Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy.
As Dr. Haeberli noted, some of the outstanding facts about the documentary is that it is produced exclusively by a team of women, which offers a first-hand perspective on the issues the women still face in our modern society. The film is directed by Shahla Ismayil, Chairwoman of WARD, and produced by Melahet Gusuri. With Mehriban Vezir as their scriptwriter and Leyla Isgenderova as the project coordinator, this amazing group of women has managed to unearth unique archival footage and information, unknown to the wide audience. The documentary was also produced to be screened within the Imagine Euro Tolerance Festival, with the goal to promote the values of intercultural dialogue and tolerance. Note, that “Republican Women Daring to Change” is the only film at the festival, produced in Azerbaijan and in Azerbaijani.
The documentary will be screened at Yarat at 20:00. The film is in Azerbaijani with English subtitles. The Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E. Philipp Stalder will deliver a welcome speech, and Ms. Shahla Ismayil, Chairwoman of WARD will provide background information about the film and answer questions from the audience after the premier. The entrance is free.