A short film and photo-essay competition on Women Who Dare

Dawn Images and Shirkat Gah — Women’s Resource Centre invite you to capture stories of inspirational women change-makers who are steering Pakistan towards a better tomorrow in big ways or small — with a chance to win over Rs1.5 million in prize money.


Step one

Each participant/team will be required to submit a written pitch outlining the subject for their short (2-3 minute) documentary film and photo-essay, based on the themes of HerStory (below). The pitch can be submitted online (below).


Step two

A total of 12 participants/teams with the best pitches will be awarded Story Selection Prizes of Rs100,000 each to produce their short films and photo-essays in 30 days.

Step three

The 12 short films and photo-essays will be assessed by a jury and one participant/team will be awarded the Best Film Prize of Rs250,000. Two participants/teams will be awarded Photo-Essay Prizes of Rs50,000 each.

Winners will be announced in March 2023.


There are three sets of prizes for participants in the HerStory competition.


The following teams have been shortlisted as winners for the pitch submission round.

  • Laiba Hussan, Niaz Ali
  • Beenish Sarfaraz, Luluwa Lokhandwala, Faiz Qazi
  • Hira Sheraz, Aiza Mustabeen, Taseer Ali, Zayan Agha
  • Habib Shahzad, Ahmed Abbas, Zona Malik
  • Aqdas Fatima, Safina Azeem Qureshi
  • Zahra,Shazia,Hassan and Hamza
  • SafarAli Danish, Syed Hamed, Sana Sahar Changezi
  • Abdul Basit, Ayesha Samreen, Junaid Mukhtar, Imran Sajid
  • Fahad Kahut, Rhea Baig and Shahjahan Burki, Sana Naz Sajidi
  • Areeba Naveed, Jazib Arshad
  • Ali Hasan, Nisa Naqvi, Alisha Fatima, Ali Abbas, Ali Zain
  • Abqurah Shaukat, Hania Sherwani, Sabrina Rose Bhatti, Daniyal Najam
  • Maryam Jamali, Wazir Sheikh, Soomar Sheikh


To develop your short film and photo essay pitch, please choose a subject(s) that come under any of the following themes that explore HerStory - Women Who Dare.

Gender Justice, Politics & Activism


Capture stories of those who are making strides in the fields of politics and activism, from working to change laws/legislation, fighting for equal opportunity, access to spaces, women’s health, standing up against violence/abuse, climate activism and much more.

You can showcase powerful change-makers and inspiring figures advocating for their rights and for those of others, especially the rights of women and the transgender community in big ways or small.

Work & the Workplace


The glass ceiling was meant to be shattered but you don’t need to be a CEO to be empowered in the workplace, or to introduce meaningful change.

Tell us stories of women working to make their dreams a reality in the workplace, and of others hoping to enter the workplace to bring the country one step closer towards equal opportunity and safe, enriching workplaces for all.

Art, Music, Dance & Culture


When we think of Pakistan, we think of a vibrant and colourful culture. Explore the vital role women play in our culture and how they’re making strides in the fields of art, music, dance, literature, TV/film and more.

Sports & the Right to Play


From the cricket pitch to the football field, women are soaring to new heights in the world of sports. Explore the journeys of women athletes who are claiming their right to play.

NOTE: These broad themes are meant to serve as a helpful guide in selecting your story’s subject. The competition is open to ideas outside of these themes as well, as long as the focus remains clearly on telling HerStory - that of Women Who Dare.


Who can participate

  • The contest is open for all individuals of all ages, genders and nationalities.

  • Individuals may participate as teams, however, each participant can be part of only one team. Teams of just one are also allowed.

  • Each team must include a minimum of one female participant to be eligible to make a pitch.

  • Entry is prohibited to employees, consultants and immediate family members of Dawn and Shirkat Gah.


  • Participants/teams can submit their pitches online using the form below by January 3, 2023.

  • All pitches will be assessed and 12 winning pitches will be announced by January 10, 2023.

  • The winners will shoot and produce their films and photo essays across 30 days.

  • The jury will select the best film and photo-essays from the 12 produced, with the winners being announced in March, 2023.

  • All 12 films and photo-essays of winners and participants will be published on Dawn Images/Dawn Media Group/Shirkat Gah platforms in the following months.

  • Selected participants/teams may provide up to 2 of their social media accounts which they wish to have tagged/linked with their published video and photo-essay on digital.

Story details

  • The story must be based around the theme(s) of the competition.

  • The entries cannot be a work of fiction or dramatised.

  • All entries should be original and the sole intellectual property of the participant/team. Any entry found otherwise will be automatically disqualified from the contest.

Short film production details

  • The story must be told within a video length of 2-3 minutes, inclusive of title, credits etc. It is to be produced primarily for digital audiences.

  • Entries need to be original content and not carry pre-published material.

  • English subtitles must be added to all videos at the bottom of the screen. Teams that are shortlisted will be provided guidelines on this.

  • Participants may use still images in their films; in case any images are sourced from a third party, credit must be given to them clearly on the credit list.

  • For music, graphics or any other material, all candidates would need to use royalty free content, or original scores/content they have rights to use.

  • All creative commons material must be credited.

  • All footage used in the film should be original and the sole intellectual property of the filmmaker(s). Any entries found otherwise will be disqualified from the contest.

  • Each film must be produced at minimum in HD quality i.e. minimum 1280p x 720p.

  • Each film must follow the widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9.

  • All films must be provided in .mp4 format.

Photo-essay details

  • The photo-essay should consist of a minimum 8, and maximum 12 photographs.

  • Each photo should be high-resolution and in conventional digital formats (JPEG, PNG etc).

  • Each photograph must be accompanied by a detailed caption (50-100 words), or if the written essay is separate from captions, the subject of each photograph must be referenced within the text in some way.

  • Total word count of photo captions or essay should be a minimum of 400 words and a maximum of 1,200 words.

  • The document containing the text should indicate where each photo is meant to appear by embedding a lower-res version of the photo in the position.

  • The text and/or captions in the photo essay should be in English.

  • Photographs with watermarks, digital mattes, frames, or borders will not be considered.

  • They cannot contain added graphics, illustrations, text-atop-visuals etc.


The participants undertake and acknowledge that the films and photo-essays shortlisted, and those awarded, during the contest shall be the non-exclusive ownership of the organisers who shall be entitled to use the same in any manner, for any purpose and at any platform as and when they deem appropriate. The participants shall retain their right to use/publish the films and photo-essays submitted and those awarded, in any manner and for any purpose.

For further queries, you can contact the organisers via email on imagesdawndotcom@gmail.com or call 03312444651


If you have any questions regarding pitches, you can contact the organisers via email on imagesdawndotcom@gmail.com or call 03312444651


Aisha Gazdar

Filmmaker, Films d’Art

Aisha Gazdar is heading Films d’Art, an independent film production company based in Karachi. She has a postgraduate degree in Human Rights from the University of London. Her films focus on human rights and social issues, especially women’s rights.

Her film, Silent Voices: Women home-based workers in Pakistan, won the best documentary award at the Canadian Labour International Film Festival in 2010. Another film, The Honour Deception - a short documentary on Honour Killings and the complications arising out of the Qisas and Diyat Law ( Law of Retribution) - won the best documentary award – Jury at the 2nd Shorts Delhi International Film Festival 2013.

She is a member of the Shirkat Gah Collective or General Body.

Salima Hashmi

Artist, Curator, Historian, Educator

Salima Hashmi is an artist , curator and contemporary art historian. She was founding Dean at the Mariam Dawood School of Visual Arts and Design at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore in 2003 where is now Professor Emeritus. She taught at the National College of Arts, Lahore, for 30 years. She was also the Principal of the College for 4 years, and held the post of Professor of Fine Arts.

She is a painter of repute whose works have been exhibited in Pakistan and in international exhibitions. She has written extensively on the arts, and has curated exhibitions of contemporary art and traditional textile, within Pakistan and internationally. The government of Pakistan awarded her the President’s Medal for Pride of Performance for Art Education in 1999.She is also a Council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Samiya Mumtaz

Actor, Instructor

Samiya Mumtaz started working as an actor in street theatre 30 years ago. Since then, she has branched out into television and film as well, besides being an acting instructor.

Her television work includes: Meri Zaat Zara-e-benishan, Sadqay Tumhare, Maaye ni, Udaari and Sang-e-mah. Some of the films she’s worked in are: Zinda Bhaag, Dukhtar, Moor and Zindagi Tamasha. She has also worked in the web-series: Dhoop ki dewaar, Qatil Haseenaon ke Naam.

Siham Basir

Managing Editor, Dawn Images

Siham Basir is a journalist, editor and producer who has previously worked at The Express Tribune and SAMAA Digital tackling hard news. After years of documenting and overseeing current affairs, she is now exploring culture and entertainment at Dawn Images. Her interests lie in feminism, politics and the media.



Dawn Images is one of the leading lifestyle publications in Pakistan, associated with the Dawn Media Group. It serves as one of the largest local online portals for news, commentary and opinion on culture and entertainment.

The team at Images is passionate about the rights of women and persons of non-binary identity. From celebrating inspiring women to giving voice to the many issues surrounding marginalised communities and those facing discrimination, Images strives to be a safe and inclusionary platform for everyone.


Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource is a unique women-led collective, founded in 1975, that works for a just, democratic and gender equal society, free of violence providing quality services and using resources sustainably.

A diverse and dedicated team of some 50 qualified and experienced professionals in provincial capitals and satellite offices across Pakistan assists women and marginalised communities to be more resilient, better informed, vocal, visible, and organised for inclusive and democratic societies.

A resource centre for advocacy, capacity building, knowledge production and dissemination, Shirkat Gah houses 50 years of historical archives pertaining to women in Pakistan. Committed to the women’s movement in Pakistan, Shirkat Gah catalysed and remains active in the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) established in 1981 to resist the reversal and suppression of women’s rights and freedoms under General Zia’s martial law regime.

Shirkat Gah partners with citizens, civil society actors and government institutions to bring about more inclusive democratic societies. An invited member of multiple government committees for policy making and implementation, SG has a track record of contributing to national, regional and international agenda setting processes and enjoys UN ECOSOC consultative status.

Shirkat Gah leads the FEMPOWER Pakistan coalition that strives to empower women and persons of non-binary identity, increase their political participation and enable them to exercise leadership for a gender equal society in partnership with Global Affairs Canada. A key aspect is providing women and youth opportunities for self-expression and engagement in public debates around gender and other issues of discrimination.