Indian TV journalist Ritu Bhardawaj reckons that the dancing girls have a special insight into the plight of women. That's because they're really men, dressed up for the Navratri festivities in the Indian state of Bihar. Ritu is visiting Bihar to continue her report on the invisible barrier which confronts so many Asian women. And if Anand and Shrish are right, women are still too often regarded as sex objects. But supposedly backward Bihar also offers a role model in Kiran Devi, a young housewife elected as village head, or sarpanch. Among her duties is judging local disputes, and so far she's settled at least 200 cases. When men, who are seen as protectors and providers, walk out of marriages, women can be left in legal limbo. But is it wise to press for reforms when Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise?
The other titles in this series are:
1. Moments of Truth - Charles Stewart, whose 1984 film alerted the world to the Ethiopian famine, returns to check whether the people he filmed then are now free from danger.
2. Reclaim the Condom - Trained advice columnist Sheila launches a campaign in Mozambique to promote condoms as sexy contraceptives - not weapons in the fight against HIV and disease.
3. The President's Dilemma - In the face of rising sea levels due to climate change, Kiribati President Anote Tong must decide the fate of his people. Should he plan for an orderly evacuation of the islands?
4. Grace Under Fire - Dr. Grace Kodindo explores what help is available for the people, particularly women, affected by the ongoing and bloody conflict in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo.
5. Darkness on the Edge of Town - Hungarian filmmaker Arpád Bogdan sets out to discover what's behind the new wave of anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary today.
6. Silk Ceiling, Part 1 - Ritu Bhardawaj is an Indian TV reporter who has broken through the silk ceiling which narrows the prospects for so many women in the Asia Pacific region.
8. How to Become a President - Former World Soccer Player of the Year, George Weah, is running for president again his native Liberia. Is he out of his depth?
9. The Elephants' Dream of Peace - In Ivory Coast the national soccer team, the Elephants, helped stop a civil war in 2005. Can the efforts of their top players avert disaster this time?
10. Sorie K and the MDGs - Blind musician, Sorie Kondi, from Sierra Leone looks at what's happening with girls' education in his country 10 years after civil war.
11. Trawler Girl - A female trawler captain in Namibia exemplifies goals set forth for women in the Millennium Development Goals.
12. Biker Boys of the Dirt Island - In Nairobi's Korogocho slum, a group of former thieves trying to go straight now provide an informal motorcycle taxi service.
13. Hassan and The Graduates - As Egyptian industry is undermined by Chinese imports, Hassan, a university graduate, takes up the government's offer of free land to farm.
14. Scent of the Streets - Nigeria has had some success in getting more women into government and business. But what about in the crowded and often violent slums of Lagos?
15. Nottingham Lace - With unemployment figures rising across Europe, is there still a place for the niche craft skills of Cluny Lace in the U.K.'s East Midlands?
16. Looting The Seas - Investigates the looming collapse of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna stocks and the role EU policies have played in the crisis.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2011
Copyright Date: 2009
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-987-9
"Silk Ceiling is another fine addition to the Life series...Eminently useable in the classroom as well as for the public. The episode conveys the critical message that the struggle for women's rights, like all cultural struggles, is a 'contestation of values'--a contestation that women must win and that, with history on their side, they will win. Perhaps if more men had to walk in women's shoes, quite literally like the hijras/aravanis in the film, the ceilings would be easily shattered. Suitable for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of women/gender, anthropology of Islam, and South Asian studies, as well as general audiences."
Jack David Eller, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Review Database
"There is a continuous challenge of trying to strike a balance in the film[s]...[The films] can be used successfully in stimulating a discussion amongst the youth about the negative aspects of such a life as well as an exploration of alternatives."
Teboho Moja, Clinical Professor of Higher Education, New York University