On March 21, Margaret McNamara Education Grants (MMEG) will welcome home to the World Bank community, one of its grantees, filmmaker, Afia Nathaniel.
Afia received a grant from MMEG in 2003 to study Fine Arts at Columbia University after successfully completing bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics and Physics in her home country, Pakistan. Afia’s goal in her program of study as a filmmaker was to bring to life women’s stories since women’s stories are more strongly told by women themselves because of the incredible sensitivity and immediate relevancy of what they bring to the interpretation. She noted that (t)here is extraordinary strength in ordinary struggles, and through that lens, her films have since focused on cultural and human rights issues, especially as they relate to women and their being able to break out of suffocating situations.
Afia has enjoyed much success as a filmmaker, lecturer and academic, having taught at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently a lecturer at Princeton University where she teaches various film courses while working on a sci-fi feature film as well as exploring the issues of lone wolves, terrorism, and the surveillance of Muslim communities in the United States.
Afia is coming to Washington to host two showings of her critically-acclaimed, feature-length film, Dukhtar (“Daughter”), which was Pakistan’s official submission for Foreign Language Film for the 2015 Academy Awards. The film which was Afia’s directorial debut, is the story of a mother and her ten-year-old daughter who leave their home to save the girl from an arranged marriage to a tribal leader. The story Afia tells through Dukhtar is an important one which MMEG believes bears repeating in March, the month of the International Women’s Day. Consequently, in concert with the IFC Women’s Network and the IFC Millennial Resource Group, MMEG will host a screening of Dukhtar at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21 in room L-103 of the IFC “I” Building, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker/ grantee herself. Plans are also underway for another showing on the evening of the 21st in the J Building room J-B1-080. Please visit our website at for updated information about the upcoming event.
MMEG, established in 1981 and housed within the WBFN Network, supports post-high-school education for women from developing countries who are committed to contributing to the welfare of women and children. MMEG supports women from backgrounds as varied as social justice, medicine, architecture, agriculture, engineering, education, city planning, engineering and, as in Afia’s case, filmmaking. MMEG believes that exceptional women from all disciplines can create sustainable, positive change. To date, MMEG has awarded grants totaling more than $3 million to more than 350 women from 76 countries.