Sarasota Film Festival film focuses on women's education

Sarasota, Florida -- The Sarasota Film Festival features films addressing issues that seem a world away but impact us here at home. One father's tragic loss fuels his mission to empower women through education.

Three sisters -- 14, 15, and 20 years old -- were killed in 2009 when an Israeli tank shelled their apartment in Gaza.

"I will never forget my daughters I will never give up," says Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a 3-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

In memory of his daughters, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish created the Daughters for Life Foundation to help give Middle Eastern women the education many are denied.

"It is the engine for change in our world," says Abuelaish.

It's a struggle told in Wednesday night's Sarasota Film Festival feature Sepideh about a young girl in the Middle East yearning to be an astronomer in a culture that stands in her way.

"Women do not need to be empowered, they have the power. It's about enabling women giving them the right road, giving them the opportunity," Abuelaish says.

Abuelaish believes educated women can help end the violence and hatred in the world.

To propel that change, New College of Florida has set up a community program starting this fall. Up to 10 females from the Middle East will be brought to New College to earn a 4-year college education.

Sarasota County Judge Charles Williams is the community liaison for New College's Educate for Change program.

"We hope they'll be successful and be agents for peace and change," says Judge Williams.

The young women will have to go through the same application process as any other student, he says.

In his book, "I Shall Not Hate," Abuelaish says his daughters' deaths do not fill him with anger.

"With hate, with anger -- which is carcinogenic to the one who carries it -- it's self destructive. I would be drowning and sinking," says Abuelaish.

He says as a father he must feel the opposite of hatred. Instead, Abuelaish says he's been equipped with determination with strength and faith.

"It's our world it's our children, our future, our responsibility not to blame others, but to take action."


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment