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Women's Annex White Paper


Published on is an interactive platform that enables women to create their own film, video, and blogging space within the Film Annex Network. The platform specifically serves and focuses on women … is an interactive platform that enables women to create their own film, video, and blogging space within the Film Annex Network. The platform specifically serves and focuses on women in Central and South Asia.

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  • 1.   Women’s Empowerment with Online Film Distribution  Introduction   is   an   interactive   platform   that   enables   women   to   create   their   own   film,  video,  and  blogging  space  within  the  Film  Annex  Network.  The  platform  specifically  serves  and  focuses   on   women   in   Central   and   South   Asia,   Afghanistan,   Bangladesh,   Bhutan,   India,  Kyrgyzstan,   Kazakhstan,   Maldives,   Nepal,   Pakistan,   Sri   Lanka,   Tajikistan,   Turkmenistan,   and  Uzbekistan.  Film  Annex  has  established  itself  as  a  thought  leader  in  the  online  pay  for  content  model  and  allows  women  to  have  income  via  advertising  revenues  generated  on  their  Web  TV  channels.   It   has   been   reported   that   women   perform   better   than   men   in   social   media,   and   this   is  especially   true   for   women   living   in   developing   countries.   For   various   reasons,   many   women   in  the   above   regions   spend   more   time   at   home   and   in   front   of   the   computer.  enables   women   to   capitalize   on   this   cultural   shift   in   Digital   Media.   Film   Annex   Founder   and  President   Francesco   Rulli   has   positioned   himself   as   a   leader   in   working   with   women   in  developing  countries  and  encouraging  them  to  take  charge  of  their  financial  lives.   Roya  Mahboob  with  students  in  Herat,  Afghanistan 1
  • 2. The  key  to  Women’s  Empowerment  is  to  give  women  control  over  their  own  media  distribution.  Film   distribution   is   the   most   financially   rewarding   part   of   the   motion   picture   industry.   Online  film   distribution   and   social   media   allow   women   to   generate   revenues   and   consolidate   their  cultural   and   financial   independence.   On   the   Film   Annex   platform,   women   will   not   have   to  depend  on  men  when  it  comes  to  the  digital  distribution  of  their  content.  Women  will  have  the  ability  to  seize  and  maintain  financial  independence.      Womens   Annex   is   the   first   platform   fully   dedicated   to   and   managed   by   women   from   Central  and   South   Asia.   The   goal   of   Womens   Annex   is   to   provide   a   platform   for   distribution   and  financial  independence  to  Women  in  Central  and  South  Asia.    Film  Annex        Film   Annex   is   an   online   film   distribution   platform   with   35,000   films,   300,000   registered   users,  40,000  professional  filmmakers,  3,900  writers,  and  an  audience  of  50  million  viewers  a  month.  Because  Women’s  Annex  is  part  of  the  Film  Annex  Network,  its  users  have  full  access  to  all  of  Film   Annex’s   content.   In   addition,   over   30   Ad-­‐Networks   feed   advertising   into   Film   Annex’s  platform,   and   these   advertising   revenues   are   shared   with   female   content   administrators,  producers,  and  distributors.  For  example,  the  work  of  a  filmmaker  in  Germany  can  be  promoted  and   distributed   by   a   woman   in   Afghanistan.   While   the   filmmaker   receives   the   advertising  revenues   generated   on   her   Web   TV   channel,   the   woman   in   Afghanistan,   aka   the   promoter,  receives  the  advertising  revenues  generated  on  her  respective  Web  TV.  Two  separate  Web  TVs  share  the  same  content,  and  while  the  filmmaker  gets  free  promotion  and  extra  revenues,  the  promoter  gets  revenues  due  to  her  efforts  in  supporting  that  filmmaker.  Some  women  will  also  produce  their  own  content,  and  this  will  further  enrich  the  overall  quality  of  their  Web  TVs.    Film  Annex  created  The  Afghan  Development  Project  in  March  2011,  with  Roya   Mahboob  and  Fereshteh   Forough,  partners  of  the  Afghan  Citadel  Software  Company  based  in  Afghanistan.  The  success  of  this  initiative  was  the  catalyst  for  the  formation  of  Citadel  of  New  York,  LLC,  a  Joint  Venture   company   owned   by   Afghans,   Italians,   and   Americans.   A   "Citadel"   is   a   symbolic   safe  point   for   international   cultures   and   a   place   where   trade,   cooperation,   and   new   ideas   can   be  traded,   fueled,   and   preserved.   Film   Annex   is   now   prioritizing   women’s   empowerment   by   2
  • 3. launching  a  platform  dedicated  to  women  –  a  place  where  they  can  blog,  upload  videos,  share  content,   and   get   paid   via   advertising   revenues.   is   an   extension   of   the  existing  work  of  Film  Annex  and  Citadel  of  New  York.  It  is  a  place  for  women  artisans  to  act  as  merchants  of  ideas.  Objectives  and  Goals  The   goal   of   Women’s   Annex   is   to   promote   womens   empowerment   within   and   outside   of  Central  and  South  Asia  with  videos  and  blogs  about  education,  business,  sports,  etc.     • As  a  corporate  mission:   o Finance   the   education   of   women   and   the   youth   in   Central   and   South   Asia,   starting   from  Afghanistan.  Teach  them  about  social  media  and  filmmaking.     o Empower   Central   and   South   Asian   Women   to   enable   them   to   manage   their   own   media,  as  well  as  content  from  other  countries.   o Empower   Central   and   South   Asian   Women   to   be   financially   self-­‐sufficient   with   advertising  revenues  and  writing  fees.   • Using   Afghanistan   as   a   model,   increase   literacy   rates   in   Central   and   South   Asia   by   providing   women   with   an   appealing   social   media   platform   that   they   can   have   access   to.   Give  them  the  motivation  to  learn  and  the  educational  skills  to  use  the  platform.   • Womens   Annex   Training   Centers   will   train   women   on   social   media,   film-­‐making,   and   writing  to  empower  their  lives  economically  and  intellectually.   • Connect   the   overseas   online   Afghan   female   community   with   their   counterparts   in   Afghanistan  through  social  media.   • Connect  and  promote  the  overseas  Afghan  female  fashion  and  design  community  with   women  in  Afghanistan.     • Explore   collaboration   with   other   online   initiatives   similar   to   Afghan   Perspective   and   help  connect  Central  and  South  Asian  Women  with  their  counterparts  around  the  world.   • Work   towards   the   goal   of   creating   an   online   Bollywood-­‐like   community   with   Afghan,   Central,  and  South  Asian  women  as  both  creators  and  clients.   • Provide  a  platform  for  women’s  microbusiness  initiatives  in  the  region  to  enable  them   to  tell  their  stories  and  provide  real  examples  for  other  women.                       • Teach  women  to  meet  specific  learning  objectives.   • Use  the  social  media  curriculum  of  Examer  to  create  jobs.   3
  • 4. • Harness   and   leverage   existing   initiatives   of   NGOs   in   the   region   to   offer   viewers   new   content  and  provide  these  NGOs  with  a  platform  to  promote  their  efforts  through  film,   writing  and  other  media.        Specific  Goals  for  as  a  Web  platform:   • To  expand  its  library  of  films  to  6,000+  titles.   • To  expand  its  network  of  writers  to  over  100  with  the  majority  being  women.   • To  attract  at  least  10  million  unique  viewers  per  month  (The  current  number  of  visitors   is  3  million).     4
  • 5. USAID  –  A  Source  of  Inspiration  for  Women’s  Annex    Excerpt  from  “USAID  Policy  March  2012  –  Gender  Equality  and  Female  Empowerment  Policy”  Gender   equality   and   female   empowerment   are   core   development   objectives,   fundamental   for  the   realization   of   human   rights   and   key   to   effective   and   sustainable   development   outcomes.   No  society   can   develop   successfully   without   providing   equitable   opportunities,   resources,   and   life  prospects  for  males  and  females  so  that  they  can  shape  their  own  lives  and  contribute  to  their  families   and   communities.   Although   many   gender   gaps   have   narrowed   over   the   past   two  decades,  substantial  inequalities  remain  across  all  sectors  in  which  USAID  works,  particularly  in  low  income  and  conflict-­‐affected  countries  and  among  disadvantaged  groups.  USAID  has  a  long  history  of  supporting  programming  to  increase  gender  equality.  Over  the  past  two   years   alone,   changes   to   the   Automated   Directives   System   (ADS),   revised   technical  competencies   required   for   Foreign   Service   backstops,   new   definitions   of   gender   issues   for  budget   attribution,   new   senior   positions   devoted   exclusively   to   gender   equality   and   female  empowerment,   and   new   common   indicators   to   measure   progress   in   this   arena   have  strengthened  the  Agency’s  ability  to  address  key  gender  issues  and  track  our  progress  in  doing  so.  Still,  an  updated  Agency  policy  on  gender  equality  and  female  empowerment  is  needed  to  reflect  fundamental  changes  in  the  world  and  the  evidence  that  has  accumulated  since  the  1982  Policy   Paper   on   Women   in   Development   was   issued.   This   new   policy   on   Gender   Equality   and  Female  Empowerment  builds  on  the  Agency’s  progress  to  date.  The   goal   of   this   policy   is   to   improve   the   lives   of   citizens   around   the   world   by   advancing   equality  between  females  and  males,  and  empowering  women  and  girls  to  participate  fully  in  and  benefit  from   the   development   of   their   societies.   It   will   be   addressed   through   integration   of   gender  equality   and   female   empowerment   throughout   the   Agency’s   Program   Cycle   and   related  processes:   in   strategic   planning,   project   design   and   implementation,   and   monitoring   and  evaluation.   This   integrated   approach   positions   the   Agency   to   address   gender   gaps   and   the  constraints  that  hold  women  back.  Under   this   policy,   USAID   investments   are   aimed   at   three   overarching   outcomes.   In   strategic  planning   at   the   country   or   project   level,   these   outcomes   will   be   adapted   and   translated   into  specific   results   with   associated   targets   and   indicators.   These   outcomes,   which   are   especially  important   for   people   who   are   marginalized   or   excluded   due   to   ethnicity,   gender   identity,   sexual  orientation,  lack  of  income,  disability  or  other  factors,  reflect  the  gamut  of  activities  that  USAID  undertakes  across  multiple  sectors  and  fields:   5
  • 6. • Reduce   gender   disparities   in   access   to,   control   over   and   benefit   from   resources,   wealth,   opportunities  and  services  economic,  social,  political,  and  cultural;   • Reduce   gender   based   violence   and   mitigate   its   harmful   effects   on   individuals   and   communities;  and     • Increase   capability   of   women   and   girls   to   realize   their   rights,   determine   their   life   outcomes,  and  influence  decision  making  in  households,  communities,  and  societies.                                       6
  • 7. History:      Citadel  of  New  York,  LLC  (CNY)  was  formed  in  July  2012  as  a  Joint  Venture  company  owned  by  Roya   Mahboob   and   Film   Annex   Capital   Partners.   The   Company   is   a   full-­‐service   information  technology   (IT)   solutions   provider   focused   on   education   and   serving   the   emerging   markets   of  Central  and  South  Asia.  Citadel  is  an  Afghan,  Italian,  and  American  owned  business  with  offices  in  Afghanistan  and  New  York  City.  Citadel  of  New  York  has  now  expanded  into:   • Sports  in  Central  Asia   • South  Asian  culture   • South  Asian  economic  development  The  Naming  of  Citadel  of  New  York:    The  name  CITADEL  has  a  strong,  historical  and  functional  meaning.  From  Wikipedia:  “A  citadel  is  a  fortress  protecting  a  town,  sometimes  incorporating  a  castle.  The  term  derives  from  the  same  Latin  root  as  the  word  "city",  civis,  meaning  citizen.  In  a  fortification  with  bastions,  the  citadel  is  the  strongest  part  of  the  system,  sometimes  well  inside  the  outer  walls  and  bastions,  but  often  forming  part  of  the  outer  wall  for  the  sake  of  economy.“   7
  • 8.   Citadel  of  Herat,  Afghanistan    Looking  at  the  amazing  Citadel  of  Herat  and  reading  about  its  history,  one  has  to  be  impressed  by  its  role  in  history  and  commerce.      Citadel  of  New  York  has  launched  as  a  self-­‐sustaining  digital  platform  and  ecosystem  created  and  managed  by  Afghan  women.  The  platform  promotes  and  supports  womens  empowerment  within  and  outside  of  Central  and  South  Asia  with  videos,  instructional  programs,  and  Blog  stories  about  education,  business,  sports,  and  a  variety  of  other  topics.  With  over  35,000  professional  films  and  videos  on  its  platform,  encourages  women  in  developing  countries  such  as  Afghanistan,  Bangladesh,  Bhutan,  India,  Kyrgyzstan,  Kazakhstan,  Maldives,  Nepal,  Pakistan,  Sri  Lanka,  Tajikistan,  Turkmenistan,  and  Uzbekistan  to  be  financially  independent  self-­‐starters.    Esteqlal  Football  Club         8
  • 9.   is   the   official   online   distributor   of   Esteqlal   Football   Clubs   games,  interviews,   and   videos.   In   the   traditionally   male-­‐dominated   world   of   international   soccer,  Esteqlal  Football  Team  is  unique  as  its  online  advertising,  promotion,  and  social  media  strategy  are   managed   by   Afghan   women.   Esteqlal   acts   as   a   special   case   study   in   international   football.      Esteqlal  benefits  from  the  exceptional  social  media  and  software  development  skills  of  female  experts  at  Womens  Annex,  which  has  over  3  million  unique  monthly  viewers.  Esteqlal  Football  Team  currently  has  over  30,000  fans  on  Facebook.    Examer  Software    Citadel  of  New  York  recently  developed  Examer  software,  an  Interactive  and  Educational  Social  Networking   platform   with   a   Micro   Scholarship   Payment   System   that   currently   connects   over  25,000  Afghan  children  to  the  world.  Examer  was  created  to  further  educate  young  women  in  topics   like   social   and   digital   media,   business,   and   filmmaking.   A   universal   platform   built   by  women   and   easily   tailored   to   the   needs   of   regional   languages   and   cultures,   Examer   rewards  bloggers,  filmmakers,  and  other  content  creators  with  micro  scholarship  payments.    Filmmaking   is   in   fact   a   crucial   part   of   the   Social   Media   Curriculum   on   Examer,   a   technology  platform   used   by   students   in   Afghanistan’s   schools   where   Film   Annex   is   building   INTERNET  classrooms.   The   best   students   are   rewarded   with   micro   scholarships   via   mobile   money  payments.  The  best  post-­‐graduate  students  can  work  as  writers,  social  media  experts,  and  Web  TV  managers  on  the  Film  Annex  Network.    Examer  also  rewards  the  best  students  with  micro  scholarships,  and  after  graduation,  hires  them  to   become   writers   and   social   media   strategists   for   Film   Annex   and   its   network   of   clients   and  partners.  The  process  includes:   • Teaching   a   student   how   to   use   Film   Annex,   LinkedIn,   Facebook,   Twitter,   Tumblr   and   Google+  is  the  first  step  to  introduce  them  to  the  world  of  social  media.   • The  second  step  is  to  invite  them  to  translate  meaningful  articles  and  blogs  from  English   into  their  native  languages.   • The  third  step  is  to  invite  them  to  write  their  own  opinion  and  suggestions  and  reward   them   with   Micro   Scholarship   delivered   by   mobile   Payment   Systems   based   on   their   quality,  influence,  and  reach  on  social  media.  The  reach  and  influence  are  measured  by   social  media  tools  like  Film  Annex’s  Buzz  Score.    Other  Citadel  of  New  York  projects  to  date  include:     • Afghan   Development   Web   TV   @   Women’s   Annex   -­‐   The   mission   of   this   WebTV   is   to   show   the   world   the   new   face   of   Afghanistan   by   broadcasting   current   event   videos,   interviews,   and   news   clips   as   well   as   archival   material   directly   from   Afghan   Youth   Development.   9
  • 10. o Facebook:  over  54,000  fans   o Quantcast:   over   2.4   million   unique   visits   per   month,   and   11.5   million   page   views.   o Corporate   Backers:   We   have   established   relationships   with   two   of   the   most   successful  Ad-­‐Networks  in  the  industry.   • Internet  Classrooms  in  High  Schools  in  Herat,  Afghanistan  -­‐  7  of  40  have  been  built  as   of   January   2013.   Social   Media   is   the   first   step   to   connect   40   schools   in   Herat,   and   160,000  Afghan  children  to  as  many  or  more  schools  in  Europe  and  USA.  Social  Media   will  give  a  face  and  voice  to  the  future  of  South  and  Central  Asia,  Europe,  USA,  and  the   rest  of  the  World.   o Provides   training   in   the   Social   Media   field   for   8000   female   students   in   the   7   existing  public  schools.   o 30,000  students  have  registered  on  the  Examer  Software.         Before  Renovation   After  Renovation     • Afghan  Business  Incubator  –  This  project  is  in  its  initial  stages  and  is  currently  building   locations  in  Herat,  Afghanistan.     10
  • 11.  The  People:   Roya  Mahboob     Roya   Mahboob   is   the   founder   and   CEO   of   the   Afghan   Citadel   Software   Company   (ACSC).   After   receiving   her   Bachelors   Degree   in   Computer   Science   from   Herat   University,   Mahboob   went   on   to   get   her   MBA   in   IT   (Information   Technology)   in   Malaysia.   Mahboob   worked   as   the   IT   Coordinator   at   Herat   University   from   2007   to   2010   and   founded   the   Afghan   Development   Program   Organization   (AYDPO)   in   2008,   where   she   held   the   position   of   Female   Officer   and   IT   Officer.   She   was   also   a   Project   Coordinator   in   the   IT   Department   of   Ministry   of   Higher   Education.     Roya   Mahboob   founded   ACSC   with   the   intention   to   facilitate  more  jobs  for  recent  graduates,  especially  girls,  and  help  them  find  opportunities  in  the  new  IT  market.  Her  goal  is  to  be  a   role  model  for  the  Afghan   women   and   motivate   them   to   start   their   own   technology   businesses   and   take   a   step  closer   to   having   a   better   future.   Press   and   publications   for   Roya   Mahboob   include:     • Afghan  Development  Project  @  FACP  Blog   • Roya  Mahboob  @  Wikipedia   • Roya  Mahboob  @  Newsweek/The  Daily  Beast    Roya  Mahboob  added:     “The  goal  of  this  project  is  to  empower  the  women  of  Afghanistan  and  Central  Asia  by   educating   them   in   all   facets   of   society,   whether   it   be   economics,   health,   business,   or   education.   With   the   power   of   the   internet,   Women’s   Annex   will   reach   women   on   a   global  scale.”                           11
  • 12.     Fereshteh  Forough     Fereshteh   Forough   is   a   founding   partner   of   the   Afghan   Citadel   Software   Company   (ACSC)   and   the   director   of   the   companys   Herat   branch.   Currently   she   is   working   as   the   Central  and  South  Asia  Liaison  for  Citadel  of  New  York  and   Film   Annex,   and   she   is   based   in   New   York   City.   She   is   the   main  writer  for  the  web  series,  Afghan  Perspective  on  Film   Annex.   She   is   responsible   for   Womens   Annex   and   Afghan   Development  Platforms.     ACSC  provides  services  such  as  design  and  implementation   of   enterprise   software   application   and   databases,   website   publishing  and  manipulation,  ICT  Design  and  establishment,   consulting   and   IT   solutions.   The   company   has   recently   partnered   with   IBM,   Pakistan   and   InfoTech.   ACSC   chooses   to   hire   women   to   give   them   more   opportunities   and   improve   their   social   and   IT   skills.   ACSCs   goal   is   to   become   a  leader   in   the   IT   market   both   in   Afghanistan   and   internationally.   Ms.   Forough   is   also   a   lecturer   in  the  Computer  Science  faculty  at  Herat  University.    Fereshteh  Forough  was  born  on  August  3rd  1985  in  Herat,  Afghanistan.  In  1986,  she  moved  to  Iran   with   her   family.   She   went   to   primary,   secondary,   and   high   school   in   Torbat,   where   her  father   worked   in   an   organization   focused   on   solving   Afghan   refugee   problems.    In  2002,  Foroughs  family  returned  to  Afghanistan.  Forough  started  teaching  English  to  girls  in  an  Afghan  Youth  Association  and  later  attended  the  Universitys  Computer  Science  program.  After  graduation,  she  joined  a  two-­‐year  Masters  program  at  the  Technical  University  in  Berlin.  She  got  her  Masters  in  2010  in  Database  Engineering.    Fereshteh  Forough  stated:     “   gives   women   in   Afghanistan   and   other   developing   countries   the   opportunity   to   be   thought   leaders   by   promoting   their   ideas   with   the   power   of   social   media.  will  support  women  in  their  quest  for  financial  independence   and  it  will  allow  women  to  express  their  changing  beliefs  in  a  changing  society."                     12
  • 13.     Francesco  Rulli     Francesco   Rulli   is   the   Founder   and   President   of   Film   Annex,  and  the  Chairman  of  Film  Annex  Capital  Partners,   LLC.   Over   the   past   17   years,   he   also   founded   MTI   USA   Inc.,  a  fashion  and  textiles  consulting  firm;  Phase  One,  a   global   sourcing,   product   developing,   and   garment   manufacturing   company   now   incorporated   within   the   MTI   Group.   In   partnership   with   American   actor,   producer   and   director   John   Malkovich   Francesco   founded   Mrs.   Mudd,   a   fashion   and   design   consulting   firm,   and   the   Uncle  Kimono  Collection  by  John  Malkovich.  Rulli  is  also  a   Black  Belt  Judo  Competitor  and  the  Judo  instructor  at  the   New  York  Athletic  Clubs  Saturday  Morning  Program.          Francesco  Rulli  stated:     "In   the   Digital   Media   world   ‘Content   is   King’,   and   will   empower   queens  to  become  kings  as  the  platform  allows  women  in  developing  countries  to  take   control   of   their   destiny   and   future.   On,   women   from   Central   and   South  Asia  can  publish  their  best  ideas,  stories,  and  insights  while  generating  revenues   for  their  own  financial  independence.”  Featured  Channel  –  Afghan  Perspective 13
  • 14. Afghan  Perspective  is  a  weekly  column  presenting  Afghan  Women  and  Mens  views  on  CBS  60  Minutes  shows.  The  Afghan  writers  watch  each  episode  and  then  try  to  relate  the  topic  to  what  is  happening  in  their  country.  The  main  goal  is  to  connect  people  presented  in  the  shows  with  Afghans  who  share  the  same  experience  or  are  from  the  same  industry.  Afghan  Perspective  is  part  of  the  Womens  Annex  initiative  that  promotes  and  supports  womens  empowerment  within  and  outside  of  Central  and  South  Asia.  Visit  the  corporate  page,  Web  TV  and  Facebook  page  for  more  information.  Fereshteh  Forough  is  the  main  writer  on  the  Afghan  Perspective  platform.60  Minutes  is  one  of  the  most  popular  and  successful  TV  shows  airing  every  Sunday  night  on  CBS  in  the  USA.  It  is  the  number  one  news  program  with  13  million  viewers  per  week.  It  contains  news,  interviews,  reports,  and  online  videos.  Each  Monday,  Fereshteh  Forough  writes  an  article  about  each  episode  and  expresses  her  thoughts  and  ideas  as  an  Afghan  woman.  The  article  is  written  in  English  and  Farsi. 14