As women, so much of how we see ourselves is who else we see. It is so important that we can see and hear the diversity of women in our world on screen. ‘Her Words’ is a new female driven interview series working to celebrate diversity and fight inequality. The intimate video interview series celebrates the stories and experiences of people who identify as women. Through interviews with names like Van Badham, Sally Goldner and Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Her Words explores different women’s’ experiences with everything from social media to feminism, sexual assault and the unfortunately inevitable everyday sexism as women we all face. Everything is up for discussion. The series is warm, sensitive and inclusive of ages, ethnicity, ability and sexuality. A year in the making, this series was made with an entirely female crew and was created by Domini Marshall who was named one of the Foundation for Young Australians’ 2016 Young Social Pioneers for her work on the project. “We want to provide a space for women from all backgrounds to safely talk about their experiences, so that they feel connected, powerful and significant.” says Domini. Her Words will release a video monthly, with the first of the series, featuring interviews with four unique Australian women around the theme of ‘self love’ which premiered on International Women’s Day, March 8th. Go to Her Words to sign up and receive episodes straight into your inbox. At the end of watching an episode of this beautiful honest webseries, it feels like you’ve been lucky enough to be sitting among a group of women you admire at the end of a long dinner, hearing their voices and stories making you feel understood and not alone.
By launching this project online, it has the ability to reach women all around the world from isolated communities to hopefully young girls in schools in Australia. Is this why you chose to launch it online?
The aim of the series is to give a platform to diverse women’s voices, so that whoever is watching is able to see parts of themselves in those stories and feel validated in their own experiences. Too often, the narrative we see in the media is limited and not representative of the diversity in Australia, and ultimately this contributes to the disempowerment of women. The media plays an important role in shaping societal beliefs and attitudes and as we’ve heard before, you can’t be what you can’t see. We need to celebrate diversity and recognise the strength in it and in doing so, we hope that it will enable women to feel that they matter: their words matter, their stories matter, and that their experiences and emotions are real and worthy of respect and empathy.
Who do you want this project to reach and how do you think it can help them feel empowered?
It’s our hope that girls and women are able to access these stories across Australia. It’s so important that the series is accessible and online content has the power and accessibility to drive greater social impact through broader reach, however we also recognise that it is still limited to those with the ability to access the internet.
Hearing women talk about women is so important, we need to be telling our own stories. Did your choice in making this project a web series play into your goal of making women seen and heard in the media?
I believe in the power of storytelling and in its capacity to ignite change. I also believe that film, and video content, has the power to reach so many through its accessibility and ease of consumption (for those who have access to the internet, as mentioned above). So a web series seemed like the perfect fit. We want the series to be ongoing, because change doesn’t happen overnight, it needs to be an ongoing conversation.
You’ve said that the project aims to normalise diversity and help people look at the world in different ways. Why is this important to you?
I think it’s a combination of having ongoing conversations with those in your life and the people you meet, recognising your own privilege and assessing your own behaviour, beliefs and unconscious bias. We all have unconscious bias and no one is perfect. It’s about opening up to those conversations, understanding that it will feel uncomfortable and that it’s a good thing – the discomfort means you’re growing, don’t turn away from that. Let yourself feel it and interrogate why it’s there. Change isn’t easy, but it’s vital.
From working on this series how do you think people can actively participate in embracing diversity and advancing women as an aspect of their daily life?
I also think it’s an ongoing process of asking questions, self-assessing and, in every situation and conversation, in everything you do, thinking about whose voices are not being heard, whose unique perspectives and experiences are being missed? Make a conscious effort to include those voices, to embrace diversity and to view it as positive, because it is.
The first theme of the series is self-love, why did you chose this as your first theme?
Self-love is a topic that everyone can relate to, but I also think it’s something that, as one of our wonderful interviewees Brigid Canny articulated so beautifully, can be rebellious act for women. In a patriarchal society, we’re constantly walking this tightrope between not being enough and being too much. We get slapped with labels no matter what we do.
Why is it important to her words?
By opening up a discussion around personal struggles with self-love, but also strategies to maintain self-love and why it’s important to self-love in the first place, we acknowledge that it is a journey. There’s no quick fix, but it’s also important to remember that self-love is not indulgent, it’s not a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s about self-acceptance and self-love is primary. It’s the foundation for all other love, and if we can accept ourselves and love ourselves as we are, I think that can open the doors for greater empathy, compassion and respect for others.
What have you all as a team learnt working on her words over the last year creating this project in regards to what it means to be a woman in Australia?
That there is no one way to be a woman. Every person is unique in their background, perspective, experience, values and stories. Yet while each person is unique, there are these universal themes that keep coming up and prove that no matter the differences, we all can find common ground. We’ve seen and felt the power of storytelling. Not only has it been an incredible privilege to listen to these women tell their stories, but the feedback we’ve been given from the women we’ve interviewed is that the process of sharing their stories can be one of strength, healing and power.