When I watched Girl Rising, three things happened to me.
One, I was profoundly touched by the 9 extraordinary girls, all from developing countries, whose tales reveal how they were affected by little or no access to education, child labor, sexual abuse, poverty, arranged early marriage, among other struggles.
Two, I was, (and I am) grateful that I was able to get proper education. (I will never take that for granted).
Three, I was greatly inspired to do whatever I can, to support the Girl Rising Campaign.
Girl Rising is a global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment. It uses the power of storytelling to share the simple truth that educating girls can transform societies. The mission is to change the way the world values girls, ensure that girls’ education is part of the mainstream conversation and inspire action.
The film (Girl Rising) introduces to us Wadley, Sokha, Senna, Azmera, Suma, Mariama, Ruksana, Yasmin, and Amina from Haiti, Cambodia, Peru, Ethiopia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, India, Egypt, and Afghanistan respectively.
Wadley is just 7 when the world comes crashing down around her. The 2010 catastrophic earthquake in Haiti destroys her home and school, but it cannot break her irrepressible spirit nor extinguish her thirst to learn, even as she’s turned away from the schoolhouse day after day.
Sokha, a girl rising from Cambodia, made her way from the garbage dump in Phnom Penh to college in Chicago.
Senna’s family struggles to survive in a bleak Peruvian mining town. Her father insists she go to school. There, she discovers the transformative power of poetry. Her passion and talent seem to ensure she’ll have a better future, and be the success her father dreamed she’d be.
When 13-year old Azmera is told she must marry, she does something shocking; she says no. The chapter tells the story of an Ethiopian family where a brother champions his younger sister’s cause to be educated and to be free.
Though her brothers go to school, Suma is forced into bonded labor at age 6. The Nepali girl endures years of grueling work by expressing her sorrow in beautiful music and lyrics. Suma glimpses a different future by learning to read, the first step on the road to freedom.
Mariama, a teenager from war-torn Sierra Leone, is the voice of the future. The first in her family to go to school, she has her own radio show, big dreams and boundless imagination.
Ruksana’s family are “pavement dwellers” – living on the streets of Kolkata, India, where her father has sacrificed everything to send his daughters to school. Ruksana’s life is filled with danger but she escapes into her artwork and draws strength from her father’s resolve.
A young Egyptian girl falls prey to a violent attack but, rather than become a victim, she becomes a superhero. Yasmin’s is the story of the triumph of imagination over a reality too painful to bear.
Amina is constrained by Afghan society, confined by her gender and expected only to serve men. But this child bride has had enough. She is determined to reject the limitations prescribed by society and to lead others to do the same.
Every girl’s tale has a voice-over written by a woman writer from the girl’s country. The voice-overs feature an amazing array of vocal talent, including Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington, Salma Hayek, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Priyanka Chopra, Chloe Moretz, and Freida Pinto.
The one male voice belongs to Liam Neeson, who provides an overall narration. It largely consists of statistics, nearly all depressing. For example, there are 33 million fewer girls than boys attending primary schools, child birth is the biggest cause of death in the age range of 15-19, 13 is considered a normal age for a girl to get married in some cultures.
In Uganda, Girl Rising will be screened at Century Cinemax at Acacia Mall on April 7th and 8th 2017, starting 3pm and the screening will be open to the public. Movie tickets will go for shs25, 000.
Private Education Development Network (PEDN) in partnership with Feed the Future Uganda Youth Leadership for Agriculture a USAID-funded project are undertaking a campaign to raise awareness on the importance of girls’ education and the value of women empowerment.
The campaign which was launched with a media screening (the one I attended) will be carried out through a series of cinema screenings of Girl Rising.
According to Mr Ochotre Nixon, the Executive Director of the Private Education Development Fund, the expectation is that through the screenings, the public will be compelled to contribute to the fund.
“We are looking to raise shs200 million from these screenings. This money will send 50 girls through O-Level education. We have already identified these vulnerable girls through our network of 300 schools which are across the country, ” he says.
Running Time: 1h 41m
Here is an interview of Director Richard Robbins discussing this incredible project.