Women’s Plans Foundation event: Sydney CBD 21 May 2014

‘I AM A GIRL’ documentary film

Australian filmmaker, Rebecca Barry, presented her award winning documentary following six young women in their struggles through teen years to adulthood. Young women from Cambodia, Afghanistan, West Africa, USA, PNG and Australia faced personal and cultural challenges to access education, manage community expectations about marriage and relationships, maintain personal self-esteem and achieve.

Rebecca Barry says she was drawn to PNG as it is Australia’s closest neighbour.

The story she tells in Papua New Guinea is about Manu who is 17 and about to give birth. Rebecca Barry says she chose the issue of childbirth as she was shocked by the statistics, “I think it’s the second highest mortality rate for women and girls having children or pregnancy in the Asia Pacific region.”

In the film she follows Manu in the lead up to her labour and witnesses the birth of her baby boy. The film shows confronting scenes in the labour ward of Port Moresby General Hospital. In the busy maternity ward at POM general there are only 23 beds and 3 midwives on a good day.

“It was like Dante’s ‘Inferno’. It was like an orchestra of screaming women and babies,” she says.

Manu did not intend to get pregnant and like many girls in Papua New Guinea she had little sexual health education. She shares her experience of the first time she had sex, saying, “I didn’t know how to use condoms.”

While her story is challenging it has an element of hope and happiness to it. Others will bring the viewer to tears.