WALK ON MY OWN
Directed by Ndèye Fatou Fall (Senegal)
In her film, 13-year-old Ndèye Fatou Fall tells how her life has been affected by profound changes that occurred in her village a few years before she was born. In 1998, Keur Simbara, Senegal was among the first communities to publicly abandon the traditions of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) and child marriage, traditions which had been practiced for centuries.
More than 700 million women living today were married as children and FGC has impacted an estimated 200 million girls and women in 30 countries worldwide.
Mentored by Emmy-winning filmmaker, Elizabeth Hummer, Ndèye Fatou takes us on the journey of a cultural shift which fundamentally changed the course of her life and those of her peers. We learn how the women of Keur Simbara and the surrounding villages were inspired by the teachings of Tostan, a human rights non-profit based in Senegal, and how they, with the help of their Imam, were able to change deeply entrenched social norms.
She records the story of a woman who lost two daughters from complications of FGC and learns from another what it was like to be forced to marry a friend of her stepfather at the age of 12. Through these interviews we see how the hardships these women endured helped create an inner strength that inspired them to become advocates for the empowerment of women.
The wave of change in villages like Keur Simbara has ushered West Africa into a new era. Ndèye Fatou’s film richly illuminates that she is part of a new generation of African women who are, for the first time, able to complete their education, marry whom they want and make their own decisions.
Mentor Elizabeth Hummer is committed to empowering children everywhere to tell their stories. She wants them to feel heard, seen and celebrated. Her work has earned two Emmy Awards for stories co-created with young people and nine additional Emmy nominations for children’s media and fashion.
My film is about the changes that have occurred in my community. Today, these social changes are of great importance, especially for children. If I’d been born in 1990, I would be married by now. Many communities still do harmful practices, like child marriage. Tradition is very strong, and to abandon these practices is difficult. When people from other countries watch the film, if they are still practicing child marriage and female genital cutting, they will wake up after they see this film and will want to stop doing those things.
– Ndèye Fatou Fall