Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy delivered one of the most powerful speeches as she won another Oscar for Pakistan at the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday.
Oscar speeches run the gamut from heartfelt and funny to self-indulgent and obnoxious. But when Sharmeen took the stage it was not the same.
The filmmaker gave an inspiring speech about the power of film to make a desired change as she won an for Best Documentary Short for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.
“This is what happens when determined women get together,” she said as she accepted the golden statuette. And people all over the world were inspired and moved by Sharmeen’s words.
Sharmeen in her speech praised “all the brave men out there, like my father and my husband, who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women.”
“This week the Pakistani prime minister has said that he will change the law on honour killing after watching this film. That is the power of film”, she added.
This was a reference to her recent meeting with PM Nawaz Sharif, who has promised to end the illegal practice of honour killings in light of the documentary.
“Women like Ms Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy are not only a pride for the Pakistani nation but are also a significant source of contribution towards the march of civilisation in the world,” PM said in a statement.
Others in Pakistan hope the attention the film has received might help push changes through.
“She has been able to motivate the prime minister of Pakistan who until her film has not taken any step on this issue,” said Sughara Imam, who last year introduced a bill in the upper house of parliament to change the law on honour killings.
The bill did not pass, however, and it is not clear exactly how the premier proposes to change the law. “He will have to take some bold steps… Words from the PM are really not enough,” said Zohra Yusuf, chairman of the HRCP.
The film focuses on the common practice of honour killings in Pakistan and narrates the story of just one of the many victims; Saba Qaiser, a young woman who survived an attempted honor killing by her father and uncle for marrying someone of whom they disapproved.
Sharmeen dedicated the award to the many people who helped her along the way.
“From Saba, the woman in my film who remarkably survived an honor killing and shared her story, to Sheila Nevins and Lisa Heller from HBO, to Tina Brown, who supported me from day one. To the men who champion women, like Geof Bartz in my film, who’s edited the film, to Asad Faruqi, to my friend Ziad, who brought this film to the government.”