ISLAMABAD-The Ministry of Human Rights on Wednesday stressed to increase awareness and foster dialogue related to critical human rights issues in Pakistan, said a statement issued on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Human Rights hosted a stimulating webinar on “The Role of Film in Social Change.”

The panel was joined by renowned filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Resident Representative and Director UNESCO Pakistan Patricia McPhillips, and Art Critic, Nusrat Khawaja. The discussion was moderated by Federal Secretary for Human Rights, Rabiya Javeri Agha. The webinar concluded the “Reels for Rights” film festival that was conducted online between 4th to 25th August 2020, a collaborative initiative between the Ministry of Human Rights and the European Union in Pakistan.

The festival sought to increase awareness and foster dialogue related to critical human rights issues in Pakistan. It showcased several insightful films on a range of societal issues including female empowerment, education, criminal justice, transgender rights, and the prevailing human rights crisis in IOJK.

The final panel discussion explored the power of film to influence societal perspectives and attitudes through awareness raising, challenging prevailing norms and thereby leading to social change.

Academy Award Winning Filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy discussed the importance of film as a dominant medium to change attitudes and perspectives towards social justice and human rights issues by arousing empathy in the hearts of diverse audiences.

Patricia McPhillips, Director and Resident Representative for UNESCO, Pakistan spoke about the significance of film and documentaries as a motivational tool to raise awareness, educate populations and create practical innovations that can be positive tools to promote social change. Nusrat Khawaja, an art critic, landscape designer, horticulturalist, and a regular contributor to Newsline Magazine on literature and contemporary Pakistani art shared similar views about the power of film as an influential agent of social change and talked about using film and education to promote positivity, tolerance, and gender equity rather than reinforcing negative gender stereotypes.

Federal Secretary for Human Rights, Rabiya Javeri Agha, commenced the panel discussion by highlighting the human rights awareness initiatives launched by the Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration with the European Union’s Huqooq e Pakistan Program using different mediums including art and film to raise awareness about girl’s education, child abuse, and women’s rights.