It’s hard to imagine places in the world where girls are second-class citizens, where they are refused an education and treated poorly by their families. In the United States and other developed countries, quality education is available for free to children everywhere, regardless of their class. To most Americans, learning is not a privilege, it is a right – for us, education will be available to everyone who seeks it. This is why Girl Rising is so important. The documentary, Girl Rising, highlights the stories of nine girls who overcame the obstacles set before them at birth and reveals the rampant gender discrimination that plagues many developing countries. Some girls can’t afford an education, and therefore must work instead; others are abused, kept in unpaid servitude, and unable to achieve a fraction of their fullest potential. The girls who bravely tell their stories in this documentary represent the millions who face the same discrimination simply because they are girls. Girl Rising gives the muted and suppressed a voice through which they can call for the much needed change that is on the brink of starting a revolution.
For my senior project, I decided to host a public screening of Girl Rising, along with help from Plan International USA. The first step to inciting change is to raise awareness of the issue and I felt as though Girl Rising, with its powerful message, was the most effective way I could motivate the members of my community to take action. Though the screening was a fundraiser, I feel as though my greatest accomplishment in this endeavor was inspiring my viewers. It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of the problem we face when we accept the responsibility of bettering the lives of millions of girls, but Girl Rising’s tone is one of hope, not despair. In discussion with the audience before the film, Anne Devine, a representative from Plan International, talked about the importance of investing in girls and explained how Plan International plays a role in making that change. Film is powerful, and with stories like those in Girl Rising, it becomes incredibly moving and motivating. The audience could feel the power these girls exude, and I am sure that many left with a new found perspective on the importance of education for girls.
Our event raised $250 and I decided to donate the proceeds to Plan International’s Gifts of Hope. The Gift of Hope I chose helps to protect 5 girls by paying for their tuition and keeping them safe from traffickers. It was important to me to know that the money I raised would protect girls in developing countries because the movement to make education universal must begin by first ensuring their safety and basic rights. Despite their power, the girls who inspire their peers also need support from motivated people around the world. Like every movement that makes a sustainable difference, it can’t be done alone. I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about the realities girls around the world face, to watch, share, and discuss Girl Rising – the change won’t happen on its own.