Last Thursday, the Girls Leadership Group celebrated a significant turnout for the screening and discussion of the film Girl Rising- a new film highlighting the tragic fact that 66 million school age girls are out of school worldwide. Many girls, like Suma from Nepal, are required to work or care for young children, others, like Wadley, an 8 year old from Haiti, are too poor to afford school fees. Each of the 9 girls was paired with a writer from her own country who was willing to spend time witnessing the girls’ day-to-day lives. Says Maddy Pellow, junior and student leader of GLTR, “The film made a point of showing hope within the most dire situations, it demonstrated that there is a chance for happy endings and we can all help to achieve them. Additionally, it showed that this is not just an issue for girls and women because in many of the stories it is the men who made the biggest positive impacts in their daughters’ and sisters’ lives and futures.”
Several of the girls’ struggles were about the fight to get back into school after being told or forced to leave. During the film debrief, the story of Malala Yousafzai came up, along with her recent remark on the Daily Show, “You don’t know what you have until it is snatched from you.” Malala was forced to leave school by the Taliban and shot in the head when she spoke out about it. She is now an author and spokesgirl for girls’ education in Afghanistan. Sophie Raffel, a senior who helped to facilitate the discussion after the screening, was optimistic about the film’s impact. “I hope Girl Rising will inspire more girls to create change, whether it be through large or small actions. Inspiring more girls to lead movements inside the classroom, the office or the government, will change the world.”
A major theme in the film is the high return on investment for a country’s economic development when girls are educated. When girls receive education and find themselves with more opportunity, it has an impact that reaches further than a single individual: political climate, economic stability, and the overall health of a nation’s population are affected positively. “Girl Rising exposed the statistics surrounding women’s education in a more impactful way putting a face to numbers which are sometime hard to comprehend. Hopefully, this movie will impact other students, both boys and girls, around the world with the same immediacy” remarked Vanessa Van Deusen, a senior who is new to GLTR. The film has been a catalyst for discussions about future activism in GLTR, and the group is considering ways to sponsor a girl’s education through the Girl Rising movement.
GLTR thanks all those who attended, as well as CIEE, a partner in the Girl Rising movement, who made the film available for the screening at Waynflete. Over 2,000 screenings are planned worldwide this year in the hope that a broader social movement will be generated and ensure basic human rights and a brighter future for all girls. More information about the movement can be found at the Girls Rising website at http://www.girlrising.com/