"Yemeniettes" - Shifting perceptions through film

"Yemeniettes" - Shifting perceptions through film

Washington, YemenDC, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Layalina’s documentary shows Yemeni girls something they've rarely seen: local female role models achieving their dreams of entrepreneurship. The film's universal lessons could impact millions more viewers. It would be a shame for the movie not to be seen by audiences in the 21 other Arab countries.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if more young Arab women and their families could imagine girls as successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The MENA region has the lowest female workforce participation rate of any other region. Because of culturally engrained perceptions of gender roles in most Arab countries, men are perceived as breadwinners and risk-taking entrepreneurship is associated with masculinity. Thus, self-doubt, family pressure to pursue gender-appropriate life paths, and discrimination bar women from the workforce, particularly the entrepreneurial sector.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We seek to broadcast into homes across the Arab world a powerful story of the dividends of investing in women’s economic participation. Layalina’s new documentary "Yemeniettes” follows a group of Yemeni girls whose solar energy startup won “Best Arab Company” in the INJAZ Al Arab entrepreneurship competition. It will premier soon on Yemen TV. With $15,000, we could re-edit “Yemeniettes” from its two-part Yemen-centric form into a feature-length documentary appealing to pan-Arab audiences. The new film would air on a leading pan-Arab satellite network, helping shift region-wide attitudes about proper roles for young Arab women. The remaining $10,000 would fund 2 screenings in Jordan and the US for students, investors and policymakers.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The girls featured in the film overcame challenges posed by their gender, age and socio-economic background to win the 2012 INJAZ Yemen Competition. They then defeated 13 other national champions to win the INJAZ Best Arab Company award. They received media attention in Yemen for a week – and then they were forgotten, their business nothing but a great idea. Six months later, during a reception tied to the filming of our documentary, a company realized their potential and invested $15,000 in the startup. If their story inspired one company to invest, then the film accompanied by strategic screenings could inspire other companies, officials, and individuals to step up in support of women’s entrepreneurship and workforce participation.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While other projects have also sought to encourage women to participate in the workforce or become entrepreneurs, their impact tends to be confined to the participants who take the initiative to sign up for their programs and who all come from one community or country. Layalina’s solution reaches into the homes of millions of people across countries and different identities. Television can educate and influence people who would never seek involvement with women’s rights, economics, or entrepreneurship programs, but who enjoy being entertained and informed by relatable content.
About You
Layalina Productions
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Layalina Productions

Organization Country

, DC, DC, Washington

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Year founded


Impact: What is the impact of the work to date?

When the show airs in Yemen, thousands of girls and their families will see something they have rarely seen before: relatable female role models succeeding in business.

Yemen is the poorest Arab country, facing a broken educational system and severe women’s rights problems. The show has the power to inspire young people from other countries to think ‘if they can do this there, I can surely do it here!’ Its broadcast would help millions see business and entrepreneurship as a viable path for Arab girls. Layalina has an established track record in ensuring a wide impact: its shows have all aired in primetime on leading pan-Arab satellite networks with tens of millions of viewers.

The screenings would bring the show to more targeted audiences of promising young women, corporate investors and policymakers, all of whom have the power to make an impact on women’s economic participation.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The project’s main barrier, getting quality footage from Yemen despite security and political challenges, has already been overcome. The risk that the film might not be broadcast is mitigated by Layalina's track record with partners. A more serious challenge is getting viewers from other Arab countries to relate to the show. Layalina would focus the edited film around engaging characters who tell a universal story of pursuing a dream through hardships and eventual triumph. Adding footage that explains Yemen's context and removing internal references would help draw in pan-Arab viewers.

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Pan-Arab free to air television channels are seen in all 22 Arab countries. Layalina has an established track record of partnering with the top 5 pan-Arab broadcasters to ensure that its shows reach the widest audience possible.

It goes without saying that the reliance on rote memorization employed widely in most Arab countries and the lack of the Socratic method is to the detriment of developing critical thinking skills and self-confidence in students, skills that would help them in their careers. We hope that this film (especially its classroom footage portion) engenders a call for educational reform in the countries that watch the documentary, as well as for increased institutional support for female entrepreneurs and businesswomen.

Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

A television show has wide reach and sustained multi-year impact. Layalina’s award winning shows reach million of viewers and cost on average 2 cents to reach each viewer during the initial broadcast premiere; that figure goes down once shows are repeated within 24 hours of their premiere and for years beyond. Airing the show on a staggered schedule on multiple stations ensures that it will be on the air for years to come at no additional cost.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

We knew there had to be more to Yemen than drone strikes and Al-Qaeda attacks. We decided to go there to check it out for ourselves. We met teenage girls who persevered over many hardships to better their lot in life and start a new green business. And we spoke with their mothers and fathers who wanted their daughters to dream bigger than they had.

We left DC uncertain and worried. We returned from Sana'a full of hope for these girls and those like them - if they can find the support they need to make a difference in the world.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

To produce the current version of “Yemeniettes,” Layalina worked with its partners INJAZ Al Arab and INJAZ Yemen to film their Company Program.

Platform Agency, a Yemeni company, will provide monitoring and assessment of the upcoming Yemen broadcast.

Layalina's relationships with top pan-Arab broadcasters (e.g. MBC, OSN) ensure that its premier broadcasts reach wide primetime audiences, while re-broadcasts provide sustained, wide impact.

Women Powering Work
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Building self-confidence and networks through role models, mentors, public campaigns, and more

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Using sophisticated communication tools such as a brand or the performing arts