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BAFTA nominated film produced by Queen Mary academic released for International Women’s Day

Pili, a feature length drama about living with HIV/AIDS in East Africa, has received its multi-territory release to coincide with International Women’s Day.

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Many women and girls worldwide continue to face discrimination as a consequence of HIV-related stigma.
Many women and girls worldwide continue to face discrimination as a consequence of HIV-related stigma.

Produced by Professor Sophie Harman from Queen Mary’s School of Politics and International Relations, Pili tells the story of a single mother in a small Tanzanian town. Earning less than $1 a day, Pili is offered the opportunity to improve her circumstances, but the risks she must face have ever deepening consequences as she struggles to keep her HIV-positive status a secret. 

Pili was filmed on location in Tanzania and the story was devised from interviews with 85 women from the Pwani region of the country.  

The film will now be released across major digital platforms in the United States and Canada, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, South East Asia, South Asia and Israel.

International Women's Day - a chance to reflect

Professor Sophie Harman said: “Pili's story speaks to the struggles so many women around the world are now facing as they try to balance healthcare, childcare, and keeping their households afloat.

“This International Women's Day is an opportunity to highlight the significant challenges women face on account of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and Covid-19. Pili's story is increasingly universal.”

In October 2020 Professor Harman wrote an opinion piece for the Independent on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on women. In February 2021 evidence given by Professor Harman was cited in a government report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee.

A toolkit for action

In November 2020 UN Women launched a toolkit based on the film Pili. It aims to empower women and girls who are living with HIV and to ensure that services meet their needs.

Many women and girls worldwide continue to face rejection, prejudice, economic insecurity, rights violations and violence from partners, family members, communities and institutions as a harsh consequence of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and persistent gender inequalities.

Using a feature film, Pili, about a woman living with HIV in rural Tanzania, the Toolkit for Action aims to support national efforts in identifying key issues women living with and affected by HIV face and actions that are required to address these challenges and existing gaps in the HIV response.

The toolkit will be used by national governments, civil society as well as various UN and development partners in their efforts to improve gender equality in the context of HIV.

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