The power of a film tracing a young Indian girl under some of her most important years, while she is fighting for success. Ladies First documentary is an inspirational story to encourage changes.
Ladies First, a documentary produced by Shaana Levy and directed by Uraaz Bahl is the moving story of Deepika Kumari, an impoverished young girl from rural Jharkhand, the second poorest state in India. This is a survival story of a girl who went in search of food, stumbled upon archery and within four years became the number one archer in the world.
Shaana Levy and Uraaz Bahl
Women in India
The constitution of India has granted men and women equal rights, however, women in India continue to face numerous problems, including violent victimization through rape, acid throwing, dowry killings, honour killings, marital rape, and the forced prostitution of young girls. In 2012, the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked India as the worst G20 country in which to be a woman.
“People frivolously say Ladies First when asking a woman to sit down or walk through a door, but why don’t they say it when it really matters – when women want to progress and pursue say, Education or Sports – why don’t people say it then?” says Deepika Kumari.
The viewers get thrown into an emotional rollercoaster of excitement, sadness, and hopefulness and above everything encouragement as they follow the journey of this brave girl. She does not just fight to become the number one archer in the world; we also get to follow her fight against the traditional norms existing in India’s rural communities.
In villages like Deepika’s, the fate of young girls is extremely bleak, as their opportunities are limited to marriage and a life of child rearing and housework. Rural girls consistently have the hardest time moving out of poverty as their future and career is confined to follow the same trajectory as their mother’s, aunt’s and neighbour’s. In Deepika’s state, 60% of all girls get married before the legal age of 18 years old and go from being the property of their Fathers to that of their Husbands.
“The focus is what is right before you- to give it your best. It sows the seed of tomorrow.” Kiran Bedi, Indian politician, social activist, former tennis player and a retired police officer.
Calling for equality
At the same time voices are raised across India. Voices emerging from different generations and economical classes and that screams for changes and equality. Director Uraaz Bahl and Producer Shaana Levy are part of these voices as they let us in to Deepaks life. Together with a great team they allow us to follow the journey of a strong and talented woman that is refusing to be part of old school traditions, and instead she is part and contributes to winds of changes that are blowing strong across the nation.
Having broken the glass ceiling of poverty, gender inequality and societal norms, we hope her story encourages parents to empower their daughters and gift them the ability to dream without boundaries colouring their future potential, says Director Uraaz Bahl.
Our goal is to make sure that schools and educational institutions use this video for educational purposes to their students. To inspire today’s students and break the unequal norms that exists in India. The keys for changes in India are education and the young generations, says producer Shaana Levy.
The movie leaves you filled with different emotions but above everything we are left with a large admiration for this young girl and hope for the future of India’s girls, even though the road seems very long.