International Documentaries in Global Development: Outreach, Measuring Impact and Engagement

By Julie Tumasz

Public and private organizations can use documentaries to widen the public’s awareness of development issues, motivate public involvement, and have a beneficial impact on non-profits’ social change goals. Non-government organizations (NGO), federal governments, and the private sector use a variety of different strategies to reach, impact, and engage documentary audiences – both while watching the film and afterwards, through activism and advocacy. Measurable outcomes of documentary films can be seen in several steps of the documentary process: the story, outreach, impact and finally, engagement.  The best strategies for organizations to effectively complete these steps are to engage the viewer before, during, and after the viewing.

This article will examine two widely distributed feature-length documentaries from two different American filmmakers that focus on promoting the same social goal of education. World Vision Documentaries describes the importance to tell a development story from the perspective of an outsider because that is the same perspective as the audience the filmmakers are targeting; these films were primarily aimed at American audiences. These feature films, making use of long-form storytelling, appropriately match the complexity of development work unlike short-form advertising, spots or social media.


A filmmaker captures a rural school in Kabwe, Zambia. Documentaries inform and motivate the global public to participate in international development issues. Photo courtesy of Flickr User Francesco Volpi, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

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Can Innovative Financing Bridge the Resources Gap for Girls’ Education?

By Aqlima Moradi

Last month world leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. In addition to serious debates about their achievability, one main concern has been around the issue of financing the SDGs. The goals come with a high price tag of $2-3 trillion annually, and, based on current estimates, almost all of the goals will face serious financing limitations. To achieve SDG 4 on education by 2030, for instance, the world needs an extra $39 billion annually.

While a funding shortfall for SDG 4 will present certain challenges to the goal of achieving “inclusive and equitable quality education…for all,” it will likely affect more vulnerable areas of education, including girls’ education, most harshly. Enrolling the global out-of-school population of girls in school; ensuring they continue through the secondary level; and enabling them to achieve literacy and numeracy are largely dependent on financial resources.

Educating girls often proves more expensive than educating their male counterparts.

Educating girls often proves more expensive than educating their male counterparts.

Economic and cultural impediments often make girls’ education expensive. While the economic incentive of forgoing school for labor harms both boys’ and girls’ education, some cultural expectations such as bride price harm girls’ education particularly. Furthermore, altering the socio-cultural norms that do not value girls’ education and in some instances even do not allow it, requires interventions beyond just building education infrastructure, facilitating curriculum development, and funding teachers’ payrolls. Continue reading