From the battlefield in Ukraine, to the streets of Peru, to backstage at a Bollywood audition, every day women find ways to rise up against a world of challenges and fight back in a bid to improve people’s lives.
This International Women’s Day seems the perfect opportunity to showcase digital documentaries about some extraordinary women doing extraordinary things.
For thousands of asylum seekers facing certain death at sea, the first sign that they are safe is seeing the face of Fulvia Conte.
The young Italian woman leads a team on board the Geo Barents, a search-and-rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea operated by Doctors Without Borders (known by its French initials, MSF).
For weeks at a time, she and her crew set out to rescue asylum seekers risking their lives to reach Europe by crossing one of the world’s deadliest migration routes. “This sea has become a graveyard, so every second, every minute is important,” Fulvia says.
Every day, six people die trying to reach Europe in vessels that are not seaworthy. Many of them embark off the coast of Libya, which has been a transit country for people fleeing poverty, persecution and conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. But the lawlessness of war-torn Libya means corruption, abuse and torture by armed groups are prevalent.
“Imagine you put all your life in one bag, you put yourself and your family on a boat hoping not to lose your life at sea,” says Fulvia, describing the dire situation people face before making the treacherous crossing. “Many say that they would rather die at sea than go back to Libya.”
Fulvia has been involved with refugee NGOs for years, motivated by protecting vulnerable people on the margins of society. Now, she and her team work tirelessly to save lives at sea while navigating a crackdown on immigration by European governments.