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About the films

Women on the Frontline: Their Stories is a collection of films that brings us face to face with the women and men active on the ground today in the Middle East and North Africa. They bring different perspectives and answers to the daily struggle for dignity and peace and against the violent extremism that infects their region and spreads fear and xenophobia around the world.

It was only five years ago that dictators were falling like ripe fruit from trees. However, the 2016 anniversary of these events was not festive anywhere. The majority of the Arab Spring countries have fallen prey to chaos and (civil) war. No one can be sure about his or her own life. Even in Tunisia, the once optimistic mood has been shaken by factional bickering and attacks targeting tourists. But alone amongst the Arab countries that rose up against their dictatorships, this small country has gone through a successful democratic transition. Why did other countries fail where Tunisia succeeded? Could it have turned out otherwise?

The legacy of the Arab uprisings is still being written. In the growing power struggle between deep-rooted forces, extremists, and revolutionaries, it is not clear who will win. Regardless of the outcome, women have formed a powerful vision for lasting peace and equality for all in the region: a vision that must be returned to the forefront of any discussion about the future of the Arab world as women were at the forefront when the dictatorships collapsed. They were the leading gures in protests. Women have since formed new organizations and movements to actively advance their political role in the region in inspiring ways. However, their moderate, rights-based voices are being silenced by resurgent authoritarianism and the din of violent extremism.

Women on the Frontline: Their Stories chronicles the stories of five women’s rights activists, both women and men, who show us what is at stake – the risks they take, the conditions they work in, and what made them want to follow this path of activism. They share their struggle for freedom, justice, equality and security in a narrative that goes behind the headlines and sound bites. They tell stories of hope, bravery and perseverance in the ongoing struggle for, ultimately, simple humanity.

The films reveal how their circumstances and countries have changed since 2011 and how this has affected their work. We discover what keeps them going despite the difficulties and dangers their work presents for themselves and their loved ones.