Solar Mamas

Solar Mamas

2012, Society  -   76 Comments
Ratings: 8.67/10 from 75 users.

An inspiring film about one woman's attempt to light up her world. Rafea is an uneducated Bedouin mother from the Jordanian desert.

She gets the chance to go to the Barefoot College, where middle-aged women from poor communities train to become solar engineers, and bring power to their communities.

The college brings together women from all over the world. But learning about electrical components without being able to read, write or understand English is the easy part. Rafea is forced to risk everything, including losing her children, if she wants to complete the course.

Women make up half the world's population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world's poor. Of the world's 875 million illiterate adults, two-thirds are women.

Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, but earn only 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the world's property. On average, women earn half of what men earn.

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2 years ago

The film has much to say. It's informative and motivating indeed. Many thanks for highlighting the inside problems of people like Rafea. She may be the model for many of us.

mette Hoffmann Meyer
4 years ago

can somebody from TOPDOCUMETNARYFILMS WRITE ME - we are confused about this page as the text from Solar Mama - that we own - is connected to Banaz - honor killing - very confusing

7 years ago

Content from WhyPoverty - not viewable in USA?!?!?! What is that all about?

8 years ago

Best documentary I've watched. This proves that given the opportunity most people can achieve a lot.

9 years ago

Some of the older women you see towards the end have face tattoos reminiscent of another doc I watched here called "Grandma's Tattoos"

9 years ago

He (husband) says as they sit in the tent "You are not going anywhere" her response? "Whatever". Love to see her come alive after 27:00.

Diana Adams
9 years ago

This is beyond fantastic. The ability for human learning is not limited to race, gender, age or other characteristics, which some people use to keep othet human beings down and exploit them. Just imagine the potential wasted in this world of inequality and prejudices and weep... Just imagine what would happen if we connect all those human brains together, the tremendous power of it... we would have probably colonized the solar system by now.

Pedro Moreira
10 years ago

WHat about teaching these people on HOW TO READ IN THE FIRST PLACE!? Those classes seemed like a voluntary assembly production line. Show them how to assemble a circuit in a language they don't understand for 6 months and make them engineers..
I do understand that empowering women to achieve great things other than give birth and beeing beaten is great, yes, but I don't believe that the lack of solar panels is the real issue here.
Barefoot collage... That could only come from India. Altough India has one of the highest percentages of highly educated people in the world, that doesn't make them good at what they do, and this the mere prove of that. Engineeeerrrrsssss!!!!??? Because they assembled a circuit board? Get real NGO!

What a facade documentary. I would surely would like to see how these women are doing today and if by chance a dimmed light during the night made theme life better. Bet they are still in the desert, being treated by a chauvinistic f--ktard wife-beating husband.

Best of luck 3 world. Honestly...

10 years ago

By simply reading about this documentary i expected it be boring an not of interest to me, instead I found it to be one of the most inspirational documentary's I have ever seen.

These women prove that if you put your mind to something, then even against overwhelming odds you can achieve something great.

Please remember it is not only the women who deserve credit here but also those men who were prepared to go against the prejudices in their society to give these women a chance.

This is the real way of fixing inequality in Arab, African and other 3rd world country's. Those of us who are lucky enough to come from a fortunate and educated background need to start investing more time and money into projects like this who offer long term solutions to target the fabric of society and empower people by giving them relevant life skills to the modern world, instead of investing our money into short-term aid relief which cannot offer a long term solution.

joe johnson
10 years ago

2 points that are the key to this:
1st solar power lights so at night people can read and learn thus get educated
2nd empowering woman to be more than baby machines.
Both are important for the long term survival of this planet.

10 years ago

I would hardly call learning to assemble and construct a solar charging system qualifies as becoming an engineer. After all, these women did not design the circuits.
That being said.
The effort required to go from an uneducated culture, with little imagination and chauvinist controls, to learning everything needed to assemble a solar charging system surrounded by a language foreign to them does require merit. Even in first world countries people surrounded by the highest of technology are not intuitive electronic assemblers...they still have to be taught.
If nothng else, sitting around the hut assembling circuit assemblies for an NGO sure beats sitting around the hut doing little but listening to a lazy good-for-nothing husband.

10 years ago

Why poverty? Because of stupidity enforced by religion. And because of the five daughters, who are results of the former two.

10 years ago

wisdom is not yet part of our world. When will it be? Children education should aim at seeing that shunting the world from half its thinking force (women) is a real nonsense. Let's hope that the future generations will see to that.

Physical power is still too venerated .
claudy poumirau

10 years ago

wisdom is not yet part of our world. When will it be? Children education should aim at seeing that shunted the world from half its thinking force (women) is a real nonsense. Let's hope that the future generations will see to that.

Physical power is still too venerated .

Claudy Poumirau

10 years ago

Illuminating and thought-provoking doc - also very moving. Although Raouf (at the ministry) said male dominance was "An Eastern thing" it was and is a Western thing as well in many ways.

The future is female - or there won't be a future...

10 years ago

An amazing doc. about an amazing woman. Beyond that I am speechless.

10 years ago

In this doc Rafea’s husband acts like a spoiled brat who doesn’t get his way. His threats and stroppy behaviour at a time when she needed help and support is really hard to stomach and almost ruined the chance for the whole village to benefit. Does his cultural/religious upbringing give him some mitigation here? I hope so because unfortunately I have been guilty of acting like a male chauvinist pig in the past and didn’t even notice. The old ideal of the man as breadwinner and head of the household was something that I was brought up on. Nowadays it seems so plainly wrong it’s hard to imagine how such an idea was so prevalent at the time but that was the view of many of my generation.

It wasn’t until our kids were born that I realised my ideas of a happy household were built on sand and not the least bit logical or productive. I cringe when I think back. I used to believe that because I had a good, well paid job and worked long hours, when I got home it was feet up time. I think I should add that there was almost a fashion among men at the time to brag about how useless they were about the house, added machismo maybe? I wasn’t one of them but I was pretty useless. I thought a modern man occasionally put the Hoover on and made her a cup of tea every now and then.

So when the rug rats appear I get a MASSIVE wakeup call and begin to appreciate what women have to put up with. I had no clue it was that hard. I told my ex-wife this after just one weekend of being left in charge of the ravenous monsters and endless household chores. I also told her that she must be crazy if she thinks she could do another job as well. I couldn’t do it. Anyway she did want to go back to work; she had a career to follow too. We didn’t need the money though; the motivation was her independence and development. It’s just my opinion but it was so clear to me then that mum and dad need breaks from traditional family roles. Well we made a plan that worked so well those days of being left in charge are among the happiest of my life.

Men, if you haven’t walked a mile in these amazing creatures’ shoes your criticism will sound terribly hollow. Especially in nine inch heels. We primitive males owe this superior sex for thousands of year’s worth of injustice and exploitation which sadly still goes on today. I’m all for celebrating any small victory in this ongoing war. Rafea has shown women everywhere what can be achieved with the right mindset, bullying males beware!

The Crucified One

Jeremy Hughes
10 years ago

I have a new hero to look up to. Anytime anyone in the first world says, what do we need 'blacks' for, this is why. Small victories, day by day.


.... Seriously....

I play wow and I don't understand the world........ ugh.

10 years ago

This is such an inspiring and heart warming documentary. Rafea’s bravery and determination in the face of such difficulty is so life affirming and enriching it gave me the tiniest bit of hope for humanity. Any woman who feels that she is not equal to a man or who has a domineering partner can take heart from this empowering film. Like a lot of other posters it left me wanting to know more like who was the daddy and what was she thinking? 10/10 loved it I wanna be a Solar Papa.

10 years ago

wonderful. inspiring. honest. "why train women? b/c they will stay"...empowerment is complete when 'we' embrace it. also a very good example of patriarchy as power and control - it is nothing to do with 'culture' or 'tradition' and everything to do with selfishness, ego, and power over...when good people (of any gender) awaken to this,the demands for equality in practice can not be silenced, no matter that 'some men' are still resistant.

10 years ago

I can just imagine what it must be like for a woman of Jordan or an African country to choose for herself for once instead of thinking about the man or the children.
Had she not gotten the "travel sting" during an entire month among the women, she would possibly not have wanted to go back.
I too would be so interested in finding out the personal story of the other women.
Funny, i have been nicknamed the barefoot lady for the last 25yrs or so.

10 years ago

Don't know if I'm going to make time for this documentary - but could anyone who has taken the time be kind enough to point me to where they might have gotten the stats for the description?

Jeremy Hughes
10 years ago

Why do "we" discuss women in general as if they are handicapped. TO me, reading these comments, it's like listening to old people talk about what a woman "can and can't" do, come on people, she's just a human being, stop making this into some sexist bull shyt.

10 years ago

" I adore women. I think they are superior to men in almost every way. " - Sting
I always did like Sting.

Kunaal Kajal
10 years ago

Absolutely Amazing documentary, well worth watching and truly empowering, I am a male and watching these women do something incredible with their lives is awesome.

10 years ago

Smiled from beginning to end, beautiful. Now I'd like to see the stories of the other women also :)

10 years ago

mission impossible

10 years ago

I have a new heroine to look up to. Anytime anyone in the first world says, what do we need 'feminists' for, this is why. Small victories, day by day.