How a Nonprofit Used Instagram Stories to Show 7 Incredible Female Lives Around the World

BBDO's remarkable work for CARE France

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Instagram Stories is a weird place. Sometimes we lose hours to it—passively witnessing its medley of parties and concerts too dark to see, food being prepared, cutesy brand videos, flowers in spring, leaves in autumn, and crayoned commentary over blurry pet shots.

“Off to work!” some influencer writes, the words superimposed over a shot of her leaning casually—too casually—against a balcony. What does that even mean?

There’s a “stories” element missing in Instagram Stories. In fact, they’re less stories than deconstructed shards of lives—which in the end are a lot like ours anyway, and which increasingly seem to want to sell us something, whether it’s a lifestyle, a parenting philosophy or just shoes.

What if an Instagram Story could expose you to moments spent improving the dumpster-fire world we’re in, instead of making you feel sorry you missed Jay-Z’s last tour?

With help from BBDO Paris, nonprofit CARE France used Instagram Stories to share the daily lives of women from the other side of the world.

Bluntly titled “Stories from the Other Side of the World,” the campaign follows seven women over seven days, their streams littered with the tropes of Stories narrative—”end of the day #exhausted,” #nevergiveup, “family breakfast,” “back to school.”

The context, however, gives them a very different resonance.

Below is the Instagram Story of Minata, a water vendor on the Ivory Coast. Minata works alongside a solidarity-based savings group supported by CARE, and works grueling hours to keep her critical business open to her community. You see her home, her long walk to market with a cooler on her head, her earnings for the day, and the local atmosphere.

Maria is the mother of a 7-year-old, and an Ecuadorian farmer fighting climate change, with help from CARE. One of the most surprising things about her video is seeing what, in our minds, amounts to a day’s work—only for the stream to end with her preparing her child for the start of the school day.

Here’s Mahmoubeh, an Afghan refugee who arrived in Athens, Greece, a year ago. In addition to fighting for her own right to asylum, she helps new arrivals in Europe alongside CARE’s local partners.

While the work is as riddled with emojis and hashtags as any Story, the dissonance between these women’s lives and our own is left up to us to feel, and not up to them to ham up. There are no complaints, no elongation of hardship, only daily failures and successes, whose stakes happen to be dramatically different from ours.

The case of Mahmoubeh specifically strikes a chord. With so many refugee crises in the news, it’s become rare to actually see the world from their eyes without a direct tie to endless abject suffering.

“Those are women who are just like us in many ways—their spirit, those little daily moments such as meals and tender moments with their children, but who live in a complete different reality, in very precarious conditions,” says BBDO Paris president ValĂ©rie Accary.

Next is the story of Jeanne-Olivia, a street cleaner in Madagascar. She introduces us to her neighborhood, Antananarivo, one of the least hygienic towns in the world. Alongside CARE, she works to improve its conditions—and while it isn’t exactly glamorous, what resonates are the smiling children who constantly surround her. Some even help out.

Then there’s Nadia, a Moroccan preschool teacher in Casablanca, where CARE is trying to improve education standards for children in poor neighborhoods. Here’s looking at you, kids:

Christina is a mother of five … and she is only 26 years old. With help from CARE’s family planning program in Romania, she demonstrates how she’s able to support them all. Her eyes, even when smiling, are probably the saddest among any of the women seen so far.

Last comes Mi Aye Myint, a single mother living with HIV in Thailand. She takes us to her clinic, introduces us to her awesome doctor and showcases how helpful her teenage daughter is as she works to fight her illness with new treatments.

Each series ends the same way—with the words, “We all have a story to share. Some deserve to be supported,” followed by a selfie of each woman and an invitation to join CARE in supporting “the fight for women’s rights around the world.”

The campaign ran on @care_france from Nov. 6-12. Over 70 French celebrities, including actor Pierre Niney, model Caroline de Maigret, influencers Noholita, Sananas and EnjoyPhoenix; presenter Ophélie Meunier; and former Miss France winners Alexandra Rosenfeld and Flora Coquerel supported the campaign by donating space on their own Instagram Stories for broadcast.

“Women are the first victims of poverty and inequalities across the world. We wanted to celebrate each and every one of them who demonstrate incredible courage to improve their lives and the one’s of their families,” says Philippe LĂ©vĂŞque, director of CARE France. “They represent the full meaning of CARE’s actions.”

BBDO Paris
Creative Director: Matthieu Elkaim
Art Director: Théophile Robaglia
Copywriter: Joseph Rozier

President: Valérie Accary
Account director: Charlotte Montrichard
Account executive: Manon Debus Pesquet

Production Director: Julien Sanson
Postproduction Director: Martine Ferey
TV producer: Morgane Bohn
Film editor: Pierre Deshayes
Head of Social media: Pierre Engélibert
Social, media & influence strategist: Eleonore Berthier-Milot
Senior social media creative: Guillaume Aubert
Social media manager: Jeremy Communier

BBDO France Communication Director: Lauren Weber
Social influence & eRP: Auriane Desplanches

Documentary filmmakers: Aaron Chervenak & Dimitri Grimblat
Producer: Guillaume Boulte

CARE France
President: Arielle de Rothschild
Chief Executive: Philippe LĂ©vĂŞque
Marketing & Communication Director: Emanuela Croce
Head of Communication Department: Laury-Anne Bellessa

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.