Highlights of our Work in 2023: Women Shifting Media Narratives

Outcome 3: Women Shifting Media Narrative 

Promoting “Oh, Sister!” Documentary 

In times of war and conflict women are seen as victims, and excluded from policymaking, stalling, or even causing regression, in gender equality, leading to one dimensional perceptions of peace and short-lived results in achieving it. Women’s crucial contributions to fighting for peace are largely unseen and recognized, leading to exclusion.  

Back in 2022, in collaboration with United for Ukraine and the BMW Foundation, NWI commissioned the creation of a documentary film. “Oh, Sister!” is about six women fighting for peace in Ukraine. The film was produced by Ukrainian production company 23/32 Films, and directed by Hanna Kapylova. It was released to the public on 16 December 2022. In the first half of 2023, NWI engaged in concerted promotion and dissemination of the film. By June 2023, at least 35 screenings of the documentary were held by NWI and partners in 15 countries.  

The film was used to engage in meaningful discussions with key target audiences about the critical roles women play in war in Ukraine and elsewhere in order to shift perspectives, and ensure inclusive policy formulation, accountability, and resource allocation.  

The film was launched in Brussels, to an audience which included representatives from at least 11 embassies and leaders from across various EU bodies. Notably, “Oh, Sister” was shown at a closed extraordinary meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe - a key decision-making body comprised of the Foreign Ministers of all member states - in Strasbourg. After the meeting, commitment to supporting Ukraine was reaffirmed. The film was also screened at the Munich Security Conference; by embassies of Ireland, Norway, the US, the EU, and Latvia in various countries; and the German State Chancellery.

As narratives in the media often shape people’s understanding and perception of conflict situations, the media was a particular target audience for this film. NWI is aware of at least 80 media mentions of the film, including in leading media outlets such as Politico, Forbes, the Irish Times and others. Notably, “Oh, Sister!” was screened to over 300 war reporters at the Bucha Journalism Conference in Ukraine, and journalists were invited to moderate several panel discussions after screenings.

Panel discussion at oh sister screening mood at the screening of oh sister
screening of oh sister Daina giving opening remarks

Encouraging Reporters to InterviewHER 

Despite the central roles women play in driving peace, dominant narratives on peace and security continue to position women as victims and exclude their voices. Men are significantly more visible as experts in news stories than women. In 2020, the Global Gender Monitoring Project found that only 24% of expert voices in the news are women.

InterviewHer was launched in 2019 to make finding women experts on peace, security, human rights, and other issues easier for reporters.

In 2023 the site continued to grow. 20 new experts were added, bringing the total number to 165. Through strategic promotion of experts on the site on social media, in line with trending news stories, and through relationship building with reporters, visits to InterviewHer in 2023 increased 11.5% compared to 2022, with over 29,000 pageviews. In 2023, 260 requests were made to women experts through the site, marking an 37% increase compared to the previous year (this does not include numbers of requests that are made directly to experts via their social media platforms).  

Learn more about the InterviewHer Project.

Revamping the 16 Days Campaign 

In December NWI took part in the 16 Days Against Gender Based Violence Campaign, held globally every year between 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Gender Based Violence) and 10 December (Human Rights Day). The campaign aims to draw attention to the persistence of gender-based violence around the world.  

In the past NWI used the annual campaign to share activist profiles. This time we conceived an intentional, strategic campaign centered on a key topic – the rise of gender apartheid and the risks of such systemic oppression and targeting to women. By taking advantage of the global spotlight on gender-based violence, NWI drew attention to the fact that such violence is increasingly perpetrated not only by individuals, but also by states through discriminatory laws and policies, and the risks such policies pose to democracies, freedom and peace.  

We used a combination of informative, educational, and general posts that were specific to countries or themes, as well as sharing perspectives of local activists and organizations. On NWI’s website we posted articles with insights written by past Sister-to-Sister participants. We achieved an almost 2000% increase in pageviews on the website, and up to an 800% increase in engagement on social media, compared to last year’s 16 Days campaign. On social media, several posts reached an 11% engagement rate (the industry average is 2%). 

See the campaignhere, and read articles written by sisters here.