Beyoncé’s defiant Freedom has been remade to highlight how the battle for gender equality faces greater challenges in a changing political landscape, its director has told HuffPost UK.
The UN’s Global Goals project aims to raise awareness of the biggest challenges facing girls today, and last year a video of women around the world parodying 90s classic Wannabe by the Spice Girls went viral, with almost 200 million views worldwide of the #WhatIReallyReallyWant clip.
This year’s video, released to mark the International Day of the Girl, changes tone from a fun celebration of female empowerment to deliver a more defiant message.
The video, part of the #FreedomForGirls initiative, shows young girls strutting their stuff to the Beyoncé song, interspersed with shocking facts about the threats they face such as FGM, HIV, child marriage and domestic violence.
It highlights statistics such as the fact that 63 million girls have undergone FGM and that a girl dies as a result of violence every five minutes.
Director MJ Delaney, who also made last year’s video, explained to HuffPost UK: “We made #WhatIReallyReallyWant in the spring of 2016, pre-Brexit, pre-Trump. We created this joyful celebration of the power of female friendship that just wouldn’t sit right with the mood of our audience in 2017.
“Everyone’s angry now, and our girls this year, in contrast to the playfulness of last year, are harnessing that anger and making it purposeful. Demanding change.”
Delaney described Donald Trump as “the personification” of the change in the political landscape.
She continued: “Last year’s film was a nostalgia track, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wannabe and ‘Girl Power’. This year, we used the protest anthem of the moment, so it seemed right to celebrate the new and quite different generation of girls that’s growing up now.
“Their tiny-ness also offsets the anger nicely. It’s not often we get to see little girls raging out. We’ve become accustomed to them being presented as sweet and giggly. Which these girls certainly were off-camera! But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t also be empowered to expect and demand equality.”
But while girls and women around the world are under threat, there is “definitely reason to be optimistic,” she said.
Delaney added: “That’s what the Global Goals are all about - so much has already been achieved since they were agreed upon in 2015.
“To take just one of the issues we cover in ‘Freedom’ as an example, Kenya has reduced its rate of FGM from 41% to 11% in recent years. But there’s still lots more countries where girls are being genitally mutilated by the thousands, so what we can’t do is become complacent or, as is more recently happening, become despondent.
“The Global Goals are here and they are working and if we keep supporting them, insisting on them, and holding the world leaders who agreed to them accountable, some quite incredible things can be achieved in the lives of women and girls by 2030.
“I’m a natural optimist and even my optimism has been tested this past year, but I like to remind myself that for every Nigel Farage there’s a Malala Yousefzai, and she answered this question best with her own question when she spoke at the GoalKeepers event last month: ‘If one girl with an education can change the world, what can 130 million do?’”
As part of International Day of the Girl, girls will take over the positions of more than 600 of leaders in 60 countries.
As part of the initiative last year, a 17-year-old girl ran the UN’s Geneva office, a 13-year-old became chief of police in India and Ireland had its first 18-year-old female mayor.