Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Short Film Competition 2022

Empower Women Media and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation honor women who artfully and compellingly explore through short films the impact of freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) in their workplaces and communities. Below are the thrilling 2022 results. Also see 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 results.


June 11, 2022 – Los Angeles and Washington, DC – Together We Grow, Together We Empower by Fatima Nazish (Peshawar, Pakistan) was awarded the grand prize in the 2022 Religious Freedom & Business Foundation Film Competition. Together We Go Farther by Samantha Javed (Rawalpindi, Pakistan) took first runner-up, and Darkness to Digital Lights by Shahzad Naveed (Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) was awarded second runner-up.

The grand prize winner receives a $3,000 cash prize, first runner-up $1,500, and second runner-up $500.

Together We Grow, Together We Empower tells the true story of Bushra Rahim, a Muslim businesswoman in Peshawar, Pakistan, who welcomes women of different faiths to her center and trains them to become entrepreneurs. One of these women, Raveena, a Hindu, was unable to find work until Bushra intervened.

In Together We Go Farther, a young entrepreneur opens the doors of her parlor (Shahar-e-Naaz) to both Muslim and Hindu women despite the social challenges and leaves a lasting impact of interfaith harmony in her community.

From Darkness to Digital Lights chronicles the courage and innovation of an 18-year-old girl who runs a software academy and business in the Swat Valley where educating girls was banned during the Taliban era.

Pakistani Filmmakers Take Top Honors in 2022 Religious Freedom & Business Foundation Film Competition

Sponsored by Empower Women Media and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, the Competition Showcases the Benefits of Inclusivity and Multi-Faith Living in the Workplace and Society

“The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is so pleased to once again be collaborating with Empower Women Media for the annual Religious Freedom and Business film competition!” said Dr. Brian Grim, president of RFBF. “The films continue to get better and better, providing both stronger arguments and more compelling visual stories making the case that religious freedom is good for business.”

Many of the submissions to the film competition came from the thirty women who took part in Empower Women Media’s Pakistan Media Training Fellowship. For six months, these talented Pakistani women learned about Freedom of Religion or Belief and received expert training on how to produce contextualized digital media to reach their communities and world class leaders.

“We were amazed to witness the tenacity and creativity of the Pakistani women filmmakers,” said Shirin Taber, Director of Empower Women Media. “They took risks to share their women’s empowerment and religious freedom stories. Their films have the potential to change lives and shift the culture at large. We need more women media advocates like them!”

The winning films will screen before civil society and faith leaders at the IRF Film Festival and Roundtable in Islamabad, Pakistan on June 19th, 2022. Selected films will also be showcased at the IRF Summit in Washington, DC, June 28-30, 2022.

For more information about the short films, female media producers, and the June 19th IRF Film Festival and Roundtable, contact the Empower Women Media Director, Shirin Taber, at or


This is the fifth annual short film competition sponsored by Empower Women Media and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. Results are based on independent assessments of highly respected judges from around the world who review the films for storytelling and advocacy impact (see Press Release). For more information, email Shirin Taber, Director of Empower Women Media.

The first competition was held at the start of the 2018 Paralympic Games in Korea where Love Has No Borders by Deborah Paul and Christy Anastas took grand prize. In 2019, the grand prize went to A Different Way, a film by Ambassador ’Sujay’ Suzan Johnson Cook and Lauren Merkley. The 2020 Grand Prize winners were Long Road to Freedom by Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake (Afghanistan and US) and District 18 by Maral Karee (Iran and Canada).

She Makes Everything Beautiful by Wagma Feroz (Pakistan) was awarded the grand prize in the 2021 Religious Freedom Film Competition. A Taste of Freedom by Meshair Jirdeh (Saudi Arabia and France) and Terri Marie (US) took 1st runner-up, and Switch On, an animated short film by Yamini Ravindran (Sri Lanka), was awarded 2nd runner-up. The grand prize winner receives a $3,500 cash prize, 1st runner-up $1,000, and 2nd runner-up $500.

In addition to the top three films, A Call to Lead by Machiko Sato (Japan) won the Presidential Global Challenge Film Award. Two other films won Inclusivity Awards: Pathways to Peace by Sana Zahid (Pakistan) and Camp C414 by Aasra Mansour and Mohammed Abd Alamir (Iraq).