2023 was a year of high highs and low lows.

Our programs continue to expand and our stories are finding a growing audience around the world. Newer programs like the ConnectHER Fellowship and Clubs embody our vision to continually foster an ecosystem where our programs complement and enhance each other.

We continue to be blown away by the results of our Pitch Fest. Halimah Tariq’s film premiere of Awaaz here in Austin over the summer was a celebration of her as a filmmaker who has honed her skills and refined her approach through all of our programs – the Film Fest, the Fellowship, the Pitch Fest. 

The Film Fest this year was pivotal in that it brought together filmmakers from the past and present, fostering connections and partnerships that are sure to endure for a lifetime. 

Our project partner grants to 14 women-led organizations in 11 countries allowed for, among other things, 500 girls to participate in a soccer tournament in Zimbabwe, 60 students to stay in school in DR Congo, 2 new hospital beds to be purchased for Edna Adan’s Maternity Hospital in Somaliland and 100 girls to stay in school in our Educate Girl Scholarship Program in Bangladesh. Your gifts change lives!

But, as many of you know, the attacks in Gaza have severely impacted  our ConnectHER community. It was bittersweet to have two winners from Gaza at our 2023 film festival. Our Palestinian Fellow, Aya Matrabie, and other filmmakers have all been displaced and devastated by the violence and destruction. Nagham AbuSamra (the main subject of the film Existing Line) was tragically killed. I have been in contact with our filmmakers in Gaza almost every day since the attacks began. It’s devastating to not be able to offer them more, but we are continuing to give them humanitarian funding and share their stories even in the midst of such profound loss. You can see the six films submitted to the Film Fest from Gaza here

We are so grateful to the people that make up our community – Film Fest sponsors, Gems, Giving Circle, filmmakers, project partners, and our volunteers. You all are truly the reason we keep going. We are also renewed and inspired by the energy and resilience of young people and the stories they share with us. 

As always, this is a team effort. We are indebted to our incredible, small but mighty team and board for their unwavering dedication to ConnectHER.





Lila Igram

Portrait of Lila Igram





Each month we grant to female-founded projects that work on global health, education, financial independence, and leadership of women and girls.

In addition to our monthly project partner grants, we are able to offer support to projects that are a part of our ConnectHER ecosystem. In 2023, we were able to help these projects through funding and/or facilitation:


in Global Impact Grants as part of ConnectHER Film Fest Global Impact Award in partnership with JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation

This year we held the 11th Annual ConnectHER Film Festival in Austin, Texas. We were treated to performances by the amazing sister group Let It Happen, a filmmaker panel moderated by filmmaker Sara Hirsh Bordo with ConnectHER filmmakers Anabella Funk, Aneta Felix and Aria Harrell as well as a screening of finalist films. For us, the best part is always meeting current filmmakers and hearing how inspired they were to meet past filmmakers as well as industry leaders. Great collaborations and ideas always flow from the Film Fest! Thank you so much to presenting sponsor Eloise DeJoria, our other sponsors and all of our volunteers who made this wonderful day possible!







Winning Film

The ConnectHER Fellowship is a filmmaking incubator program in which past ConnectHER filmmakers deliver peer-to-peer filmmaking workshops and mentorship in their communities. We are building a pipeline of young filmmakers to advocate for women and girls around the world. Workshop participants gain confidence as they learn to embrace technology and tell powerful stories that can change the world. In 2023, we worked with 6 Fellows in 6 different countries, and the program has already grown! Meet this year’s ConnectHER fellows here.

We held the premiere for 2022’s Education for All ConnectHER Pitchfest Winner Halimah Tariq’s film Awaaz in partnership with Austin Film Society and IndieMeme.


Our 2023 Pitchfest was presented by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and film pitches were aligned with their mission to create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. We had not one but two winners – Halimah Tariq for her film “Saaya” and Sarah Khan for her film “In Her Hands.” We look forward to the premieres of these films in 2024!




In 2023, we worked with high school students at Westlake High, Vandergrift, Ann Richards School and Austin Peace Academy to develop clubs with their peers to screen ConnectHER Films, discuss global women’s issues and make films of their own to submit to the ConnectHER Film Festival. Club members volunteer at the Film Festival as well – we are so excited to have them as part of our local community.