International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

Defending Women Defending Rights is an international campaign launched in 2004 for the recognition and protection of women human rights defenders who are activists advocating for the realization of all human rights for all people. The campaign asserts that women fighting for human rights and all activists defending women’s rights face specific violations as a result of their advocacy or their gender. November 29th is a day of recognition for women human rights defenders, and it is a day to commemorate activism, advocacy and courageous acts of resistance. The campaign focuses on defense of rights and the impact of abuses by state and non-state actors (including family and community members), the rise in militarism and fundamentalisms, and the many ways defenders are targeted because of sexuality, including the perception of being lesbian or gay.

For more information, check the women human rights defender campaign website for videos, action alerts, reports, and other materials you can use to celebrate International Women Human Rights Defenders Day in your community. To learn more about the human rights defender we featured in our film read below.

Culture of Courage- Meaza (1)

Women for Women Social and Development Association

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 12.00.20 AM


Thanks to your support, the petition we helped Aberash launch to advocate for the release of the United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, was successful. Over 156,000 people signed our petition and we are truly grateful. Now, we are asking our community of supporters to contribute towards raising $50,000 for Aberash’s new nonprofit Women for Women Social and Development Association (WWSDA). The work of WWSDA will focus on alleviating the burdens of women and girls in the rural areas of Ethiopia. The specific objectives of the new organization include:

  • to reduce prevalence of child marriage
  • to reduce violence against women and girls
  • to encourage and support rural girls to participate in education

We hope you will consider contributing to Aberash’s effort by making a tax-deductible donation below. 100% of your donations will go towards supporting this important work.

Difret Premieres on Netflix July 1

The wait is finally over. Difret will begin streaming on Netflix July 1.

Make sure to watch and spread the word.


Victory for Difret Impact Campaign: State Dept Releases U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls

I am so happy to tell you that thanks to the over 156,000 supporters that signed our Difret petition, together, we helped convince the U.S. Government to develop and deliver a coordinated strategy across multiple U.S. government agencies for ending child marriage and promoting the empowerment of adolescent girls globally.

On March 15, 2016, after many months of sustained advocacy, Secretary of State John Kerry released the United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, which will help make sure that ending child marriage is a priority in U.S. foreign policy. Finally, U.S. diplomats and ambassadors will be directed to raise issues like child marriage with diplomats from countries with high child marriage rates and USAID must now expand evidence-based, stand-alone programs to delay the age of marriage.

Read more here and watch a video of the announcement here:

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 11.44.00 PM

Book Your Community Screening Today

As you know, 14.2 million girls per year are married before they turn 18. Throughout the Difret social action campaign, our goal has been to broaden the conversation on how we can collectively work to end child marriage globally. We are excited to announce that Difret is now available for community screenings across the United States.

With the purchase of a public screening license, you can host a screening of the film at a local venue of your choice (university, community center, or church). We are also pleased to announce that Mehret Mandefro, the award-winning producer behind Difret, is available to present the film at your event and engage your audience in a post-screening discussion.

In addition to community screenings, we are partnering with Tugg to provide individuals and organizations the opportunity to bring the film to their local theater at no cost to event hosts.

We hope you will join the campaign to end child marriage by bringing Difret to your community very soon.

The Washington Diplomat: Argo, Difret Take Honors at America Abroad Media

AAM Awardees

Honoree Mithat Bereket; AAM President and Founder Aaron Lobel, and honorees Zeresenay Mehari, Mehret Mandefro, Noura Al Kaabi, Neaza Ashenafi and Aberash Bekele.

by Karin Zeitvogel

Journalists and filmmakers rubbed shoulders with ambassadors past and present, U.S. lawmakers, State Department officials and movie stars ”” as well as the ordinary people those stars have played in cinematic roles ”” at America Abroad Media’s third annual “Power of Film” awards dinner, held Oct. 23 in Washington.

This year’s winners included two films: 2013 Academy Award winner Argo, which tells the story of six American diplomats in Tehran and attempts to rescue them during the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis 36 years ago, and Difret, an Ethiopian docudrama that chronicles a crusading woman lawyer’s defense of a teenage girl accused of murdering the man who forcefully took her as his wife and raped her.

Also honored for their contributions to “independent thought and the exchange of positive ideas” were Turkish journalist Mithat Bereket and Abu Dhabi media executive Noura Al Kaabi.

“In every country, there is so much potential to be a force for good, a force that facilitates honest, civil discussion, the values of pluralism and critical thinking,” said Aaron Lobel, AAM’s founder and president. “That’s why it’s so important for us to be gathered here tonight to honor those who make that possible: outstanding filmmakers, journalists and media leaders. These are people are making an enormous difference every day and they deserve our recognition.”

Read full article.

Difret Open in Washington DC Friday October 30


Buy your tickets for the opening night Q and A here.

Difret Opens in NYC Tomorrow

NYC Opening Night


Don’t miss the opening night. Buy your tickets here.

World Bank: Women, Business and the Law 2016

DIFRET screened as part of the launch event for the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2016 report. The report, which examines laws that impede women’s employment and entrepreneurship, found that legal barriers to the economic advancement of women are widespread, shutting them out of certain jobs, limiting their access to credit, and leaving them unprotected against violence in many economies around the world.

This year, for the first time ever, the report also covered the issue of child marriage and found some interesting facts. For example, did you know that Kenya now imposes criminal penalties for underage marriage? In addition, in the past 2 years, Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe established legal marriage age as 18 for boys and girls. To read the full report, click here.


Entertainment Weekly: Angelina Jolie brings Sundance hit to theaters

by Jeff Labrecque

Ethiopia has made great progress as a nation since the devastating famine and civil war of the 1980s, but as recently as the 1990s, women in that country were susceptible to unspeakable violence disguised as custom. In Difret, which played at Sundance and opens in theaters on Oct. 23, two Ethiopian women fight back against the practice of telefa, the accepted abduction and rape of teenage girls as long as the man marries his victim.

Based on a true story, Difret was the passion project of Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Berhane Mehari. It tells the story of a 14-year-old (Tizita Hagere) who defends herself against her abductor and is sentenced to death when she kills him. A female lawyer (Meron Getnet) takes her case, pitting generations of tradition against the future of equal rights in her country. Mehari turned down opportunities to get his film made abroad, in English, because he was determined to film it in Ethiopia, in Amharic, so that his countrymen and women could see and relate to the story.

Difret not only shows the tenacity and strength of two remarkable Ethiopian women and brings the world’s attention rightfully to these two real-life heroes, but it also shows the extraordinary talent and creativity of Ethiopian filmmakers,” says Angelina Jolie, who became an executive producer prior to Sundance, where the film won an Audience Award. “I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Read full article.

Older News