New Al Jazeera Series Focuses On Ordinary Women Creating Change Around The World


Now THIS is the kind of series that deserves a trending hashtag, viewing parties and in-depth after-show discussions. While we are all familiar with these kind of activities associated with many reality shows or very popular drama series, imagine if we gave powerful documentaries and shows about women changing the world the same treatment? Imagine the impact it would have on what we teach our kids, the conversations we have with colleagues, how we interact on social media, and our perspective on world politics.

Al Jazeera has launched a new docu-series called ‘Women Make Change’, and each episode takes us to a different country where we learn about a woman, or a group of women who are driving substantial change in their communities. The countries we get to visit include Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda and Kenya.

The series is a welcome part of a new wave of female-focused and female-driven content that seeks to tip the balance of coverage in women’s favor a little, all in the name of gender equality. Vice has launched their feminist Broadly channel, Refinery29 have released a new series called ‘A Woman’s Place’ spearheaded by Allison Rapson and Kassidy Brown from We Are The XX feminist media organization, and popular Youtube Channel What’s Trending from Shira Lazar has just launched an offshoot called What’s Trending Fem which will focus exclusively on daily feminist content rather than every trending top as the original channel does.

It is an exciting time to be in the digital media game as there are more and more opportunities for women to share their stories knowing there is an audience. And for those of you in the states who are sick of certain big news media channels going to extreme lengths to share their bias, Al Jazeera has been a welcome change in the landscape sharing perspectives on topics in a way that is far more appealing and interesting (at least in our humble opinion!).


‘Women Make Change’ is hosted by Nigerian media personality Femi Oke who travels around the globe presenting stories of how women are participating in industries such as agriculture, sports, and healthcare and how they are effectively dismantling stereotyped notions of what a woman should be.

The series has also been launched at an important time. Leaders from around the world recently signed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into agreement which is focused on eliminating poverty by 203o. One of the goals is to achieve gender equality, which we believe is one of the most crucial. Today there are 66 million school-aged girls not getting an education. 70% of the world’s poor are women. Studies show that for every additional year of school a girl gets beyond elementary school, her potential to earn increases anywhere from 10-20%. With just over half the world’s population being female, it’s a pretty safe bet to invest in the financial empowerment of women.

“At a time when the world is debating gender equality and sustainable development goals, we wanted to hear first-hand from women who are already making significant changes in their communities,” said Ingrid Falck, Al Jazeera English’s head of documentaries.

“We interrogated the latest research findings to see how the ripple of impact can work. The combination of impressive, authoritative women who live with these issues in the real world, together with integrated graphics, paints a thought-provoking picture,” she added.


The episode shot Kenya called ‘The Water Women’ focuses on a community of women who are building rainwater harvesting tanks and teaching other women to do the same in their own villages. Roughly 43% of rural Kenyans live without clean water which makes it very easy for disease to spread when the only source of H2O is contaminated. The water tanks have allowed businesses, including nearby health centers, to operate better, and they have also significantly decreased the presence of Cholera.

Instead of having to walk miles to look for clean water, making them susceptible to attacks, these women are now able to spend time studying, working, earning money and contributing to their communities.

Another episode focuses on a woman in Rwanda who is bringing healing to the women in her community in a unique way. She enlists women to join a local soccer team which hasn’t just become a source of health for them, but has also become a regular space for women to talk about their lives as a support group and gain confidence to open businesses, help their girls go to school and be a thriving part of society.

In Ghana, we learn about two women who are determined to get more girls in school, and in Brazil an organization helps women break the cycle of domestic violence.

“The idea behind the series is to take particular women’s lives, different parts around the world, and see what a huge impact they have with just one small idea. Something very ordinary is actually completely transforming their local community,” said host Femi Oke in an introductory video about the series.


Stories about women who have become leaders by stepping up to the plate are being shared in the hope it will inspire others in their communities as well as viewers about what it really takes to make change.

“It’s really important to tell these kind of stories because if you’re looking at the developing world, you’re looking at empowering women which is a big theme globally right now. There’s research that shows if you give women an opportunity to really get involved in their local communities they have a big impact because they care about kids going to school, their family making money and the impact goes beyond the individual woman and that really changes how the world develops,” added Femi.

Although she admits the idea of sustainability can sound a little “dry”, there are actually some amazing stories that deserve more attention, because if the media does talk about countries like Rwanda, Brazil or Papua New Guinea, you don’t get the insight that ‘Women Make Change’ is giving.

When we look at how, throughout history, there has been a deliberate exclusion of women’s contribution in the world, it is encouraging to know that today, in the digital media age, there are women and networks and companies working to change that for future generations.

You can watch some of the ‘Women Make Change’ episodes below:

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