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A powerful noise Live Discussion Guide

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Contents Introduction for Facilitators


Setting the Stage


Discussing the Issues


Action Steps


For More Information



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Introduction for Facilitators This guide is designed to help you facilitate a group discussion around the issues presented in the documentary, “A Powerful Noise.” The film follows the lives of three women – Hanh in Vietnam, Nada in Bosnia and Madame Urbain in Mali – who overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to improve their own lives and transform their communities. The women confront gender barriers to claim a voice in their societies and spark remarkable changes. Their inspiring stories demonstrate that empowering women and girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty around the world. Your group discussion after viewing “A Powerful Noise” will help participants understand how women and girls’ empowerment can reduce global poverty, combat HIV/AIDS, increase access to education and lead to economic independence. It will also spark conversation about how your group can join a worldwide movement to fight global poverty by empowering women and girls.


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Setting the Stage After you have watched the film, “A Powerful Noise,” you can set the stage for a group discussion by: • Giving a brief introduction to CARE: CARE ( is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Recognizing that women and girls suffer disproportionately from poverty, CARE places special emphasis on empowering them to create permanent social change. Women are at the heart of CARE’s communitybased efforts to improve basic education, expand economic opportunity, increase access to health services and protect natural resources in more than 60 countries around the world.

• Watching the film trailer (available at to refresh the group’s memory, if it has been a few days since you viewed the film. • Showing participants the three countries featured in the film on a world map. Ask them to keep geography and culture in mind when thinking about each woman’s story. (How are their situations similar, despite the distance? How are their situations unique?) Bosnia/Herzegovina is in Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia. For a map and facts about the country visit:

Mali is located in Western Africa, southwest of Algeria. For a map and facts about the country visit:

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, south of China and alongside Laos and Cambodia. For a map and facts about the country visit:


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Discussing the Issues After setting the stage, the following questions will help you begin a discussion about the film. The discussion questions are divided into issue areas, so you may choose the topics on which you want to focus. Each issue area includes information to help you guide the discussion, followed by suggested questions. Additional information about the issues addressed in the film may be found by visiting the Web sites listed at the end of this guide, or at: .

“A Powerful Noise” The documentary, “A Powerful Noise,” weaves together the inspiring true stories of three extraordinary women who overcome tremendous odds to spark remarkable change in their societies. The film shows the important role that women and girls play in fighting injustice and extreme poverty in countries around the world. • How would you convey the message of the film, “A Powerful Noise,” to family, friends and colleagues? • What was the most valuable thing you learned from watching the film? • Of the three women featured in the film – Hanh, Madame Urbain and Nada – was there one whose story impacted you most? Why? • What qualities do these women share that make them strong leaders in their communities? • At the heart of “A Powerful Noise” is a simple message – we each have the power to create change in our communities and beyond. How do you feel our group can make a difference in the lives of women around the world?

Hanh’s Story & HIV/AIDS In Vietnam, as in many countries around the world, people are becoming infected with HIV/AIDS at an increasing rate. Hanh learned that she had contracted HIV after her husband and 5-year-old daughter died from AIDS. Bouncing back from despair, Hahn started a self-help group called Immortal Flower to give people living with HIV/AIDS a place for support, counseling and health care. Her group of six grew to over 130 members in just one year. As an advocate and mentor, Hanh provides prevention information to the


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public, as well as medical assistance to affected families. Her goal is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and to prevent social stigma and discrimination against survivors. HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic of immense economic and social impact. An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV worldwide. Globally, 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV. The impact of this disease is greatest among the poor, who have no economic safety net and limited access to important social services. As the poorest of the poor and the caretakers of the ill, women often bear the largest burden of the disease. Addressing the HIV epidemic is critical to the global fight against poverty. While great strides in prevention and treatment have been made in the past several years, HIV/AIDS continues to orphan millions of children, overburden health care systems, deprive children of education and reduce economic growth in many countries. • How does HIV/AIDS impact the poorest people around the world? • In what ways does being poor affect people’s ability to protect themselves from HIV? • How does Hanh’s story illustrate the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and children? • How does social stigma around HIV/AIDS impact efforts to educate a community about prevention and treatment of the disease? • Do you think the world (and particularly the United States) is doing enough to address this epidemic?

Madame Urbain’s Story & Girls’ Education Jacqueline Dembele, better known as “Madame Urbain,” fights forced labor and the exploitation of girls who work in the capital city of Bamako, Mali. Madame Urbain stands up for the rights of these girls, who are often abused in the workplace. At education centers throughout the city, Madame Urbain’s organization, APAF Muso Dambe, provides the girls with a basic education, teaches them skills and places them in safe jobs. The group mentors the graduates of the centers and provides grants so they can start small businesses as tailors, clothing designers and soap makers. Worldwide, 75 million children who should be in school are not. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women.


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Many poor families around the world do not send their children to school because they depend on them, especially girls, to assist in housework, farm work or work outside the home to help support the family. Also, many poor families do not have access to transportation to schools or cannot afford to pay fees for books and uniforms. In addition, traditional beliefs sometimes do not place a high value on educating girls. Improving access to girls’ education is crucial to fighting global poverty. Each additional year of primary education that a girl receives makes her better equipped to make crucial decisions in her life. Education correlates to decreased HIV infection rates, healthier families of a more manageable size, greater economic independence, and decreased malnutrition and infant mortality levels. • What challenges do poor families and communities around the world face that might prevent them from sending their daughters to school? • What unique problems can girls encounter if they do not go to school? Cite some examples from the film, as well as from your own experience. • What type of problems do the girls in the film face in their jobs as domestic workers? In what ways could getting an education improve their situations? • How did the fact that Madame Urbain had the opportunity to attend school help empower her to become a community leader? • How could Madame Urbain’s work to protect and educate girls begin to change perceptions about the importance of girls’ education and the role of women in Malian society?

Nada’s Story & Women’s Economic Empowerment Nada is a working mother of three children who survived the destruction of the Bosnian War. Her women’s association, Maja Kravica, is helping ease conflict between two ethnic groups, the Serbs and Bosniaks, who fought during the war. Nada is building an agricultural co-operative to offer employment opportunities for widows and to develop markets for families to sell their crops and livestock. Under Nada’s leadership, the group is reconstructing communities and helping families support themselves so the memories of war may begin to fade and the country’s children can have a brighter future.


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Both during times of conflict and times of peace, women around the world often create their own economic opportunity through microfinance programs, such as agricultural co-operatives. Women who normally would not have the resources to create a successful business alone can band together to pool their resources, gain access to loans and find opportunities to sell their products. Providing economic opportunity for women, such as microfinance programs, is key to the fight against global poverty. When women organize and participate in the economy, their household incomes increase and they help provide a foundation for overall development in their societies. • Is there a relationship between economic prosperity and peace? How might wealth or poverty ease or lead to conflict? • There’s an old saying, “It takes money to make money.” Do you think this is true? Why is it sometimes difficult for the poor to find employment or earn a living? Do women, in particular, face unique challenges? • By finding solidarity as women, the members of Nada’s group put ethnic differences aside and joined together to pursue common goals. In what ways does coming together as a group help the individual women support themselves and their families? • What challenges does the group face in their efforts to make their cooperative successful? • What challenges and opportunities do women in businesses in the United States share in common with Nada’s group?


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Global Poverty Poverty is not just a lack of money. It is a lack of access to adequate food and shelter, education, economic opportunity, and needed services like health care. Around the world, a total of 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. An additional one and a half billion people live on less than $2 a day. When combined, these groups make up almost half of the world’s population. Although the problem is great, progress is being made to reduce global poverty. In 2000, the United Nations established specific objectives called the Millennium Development Goals to improve global conditions over a 15-year period. The aim is to reduce extreme poverty and chronic hunger, cutting in half the number of people who struggle daily just to survive. Remarkable strides have been made in achieving these goals, but there is still a long way to go. • How did widespread poverty in their respective communities impact the challenges faced by the women featured in “A Powerful Noise”? • What are some of the factors that contribute to poverty? • How is poverty in the United States different than poverty in developing countries? How is it similar? • Why is it important to reduce the number of people living in poverty around the world? • In what ways can individuals and groups in the United States make a difference in the lives of poor people around the world?


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Women and Girls’ Empowerment & the Fight Against Global Poverty The burden of poverty falls disproportionately on women and girls – 60 percent of the poorest people on the planet are female. But when women and girls have the opportunity, they can become powerful catalysts for change in their societies. The stories in “A Powerful Noise” are prime examples of how empowered women are able to overcome societal barriers and help lift their families and communities out of poverty. Hanh’s story demonstrates that when women become empowered with knowledge, they can play a key role in educating their community to protect their health. Madame Urbain’s story demonstrates that providing girls with education and leadership opportunities helps break the cycle of poverty, since girls who are educated earn more as adults and are more likely to send their children to school. Nada’s story demonstrates that when women join together in microfinance initiatives, they can unify their communities and promote economic development, while providing themselves with the means to invest in their families’ health care, food and education. It is important to recognize that poverty is not inevitable. It is the product of decisions and practices – some based on cultural beliefs and policies – that hold people back. That means, if we work together, we have the power to change the world and end poverty. We can all play a role in helping women and girls around the world become empowered. • Why are women and girls disproportionately impacted by poverty? • How did gender discrimination impact the women in “A Powerful Noise”? How do their efforts to fight poverty help empower other women in their communities? • How is the empowerment of women and girls an effective way to address global poverty? • Are there women in your life who exemplify women’s empowerment? What about them makes them powerful? • How can our group apply what we have learned from “A Powerful Noise” to make a difference in the world?


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Action Steps Your group can take this discussion a step further and join the movement to fight global poverty by empowering women and girls. Here are a few suggestions for how to take action: 1. Spread the word about what you’ve learned – discuss these action steps and the issues raised in the film at future group meetings and with friends, family members and colleagues. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the importance of fighting global poverty. 2. Join the CARE Action Network ( and receive regular updates on ways to take immediate action when it is needed most. Learn how you can make a difference by encouraging your members of Congress to do more to fight global poverty. 3. Donate to CARE’s programs by visiting – 90 percent of CARE’s resources go directly to poverty-fighting programs. 4. Visit to order the “A Powerful Noise” DVD, once it becomes available. Plan to show the film at future group meetings, fundraisers, special events and house parties. 5. Speak up! Do you have ideas for how to further share the message of “A Powerful Noise”? We want to hear about them. E-mail any thoughts, feedback or ideas to

“If half the world’s population remains vulnerable to economic, political, legal and social marginalization, our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity is in serious jeopardy. The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women’s rights in every country on every continent.” —Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State


For More Information “A Powerful Noise” - Basic Education Coalition - CARE - Center for Global Development - Millennium Campaign - Millennium Development Goals - United Nations Development Program - United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative - United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) -

WWW.APOWERFULNOISE.ORG E-mail with any questions or for more information on ways to get involved. CARE USA - 151 Ellis Street, NE - Atlanta, GA 30303

Make a Powerful Noise_Discussion Guide  

discussion guide for CARE's film-A POWERFUL NOISE

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