Women in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are fighting to stop military strongmen and religious fundamentalists from hijacking the Arab Spring.

Why we care: In the 2011 Arab uprisings, women stood shoulder to shoulder with men as they fought together to overthrow the region’s brutal dictatorships. Now many forces are attempting to silence their voices.

How we’re solving this: Producing a feature-length documentary film called Awakening, to reveal the key role women played in the revolutions.

Two years ago the dream of liberty and economic justice filled the hearts of men and women across the Arab world. In Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, people rose up and threw out the dictators who had ruled their lives for decades. Today, their future lies on a razor’s edge. 

Women who took to the streets for universal justice are alarmed to find themselves at the center a struggle that will shape the region: Women are facing flagrant attempts to push them back into their homes and out of the public sphere, not just by legislation but also by way of escalating public sexual assaults aimed at silencing voices.

Having tasted the possibility of their “Arab Spring,” men and women across the region say they will not turn back. The future they create will determine the fate of democracy and, therefore, peace across the region and around the world.  Women’s rights have become the red line.

Their success will impact all of us. As go the women, so goes the world. 

Award-winning filmmakers Abigail E. Disney and Gini Reticker have joined the celebrated author and founder of Women for Women International, Zainab Salbi, to create Awakening, a cross-platform multi-media initiative that introduces the unstoppable women who, then and now, refuse defeat for themselves or their countries.

This project will help provide critical funding to help produce the documentary, Awakening, through which we’ll meet the women who became the symbol of resistance that inspired the Tunisian uprisings; the Egyptian women whose demands for economic justice fueled the growing cauldron of discontent; and the Libyan women who were brave enough to demonstrate against the brutal dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

This project will help us follow their journeys, from their fear and courage in confronting the dictatorships, to their euphoria when the regimes toppled, to their concern at seeing current attempts to strip them of their rights.

But Awakening doesn’t stop there. As the struggles of our characters and women in the Middle East and North Africa continue to unfold in the months and years to come, an interactive app and web site will provide platforms for their individual stories to be told, as well as that of the broader and emergent pan-Arab women’s movement.

The shoot will take place across one month in three countries and funding raised here will help us cover the costs of hiring a crew, setting up a studio, purchasing shooting equipment, and traveling to locations.

Share your email with us here and we’ll keep you posted about Awakening‘s progress!

Catapult may be required to share donor names, addresses and gift amounts with the production company Fork Films, PBS and/or ITVS, as Awakening has been identified for possible PBS broadcast as part of an ITVS initiative. PBS is required by law to make available to members of the public upon request the full list of contributors to broadcast productions, along with contributors’ addresses and gift amounts. Please be advised that your generous support of Awakening may be disclosed accordingly.