Last Thursday my friend Jill and I went to a screening of the documentary, Girl Rising, a film by 10×10 productions telling the stories of nine girls from nine different countries and the strength they inhabit while overcoming challenges they face to get an education.
“When girls go to school and get an education, they stay healthy. They save money. They speak up. They build businesses. Then they pass it all on…and poverty declines. Challenges become opportunities; progress happens”
-Richard Robbins, the Girl Rising Director
Between Jill and I playing “name that narrator,” I found myself questioning the predefined theme of the film—“one girl with courage is a revolution.”
I’m not sure that’s quite right.
Despite the fact that the girls featured are from Cambodia, Haiti, Nepal, Egypt, Ethiopia India, Peru, Sierra Leon, and Afghanistan they are all faced with interlocking themes:
- Poverty/economic class
- Laws that don’t protect women or even men for that matter, lack of enforcement
- Cultural customs
Other risks that prevent girls not having access to education are slavery/labor or “kamlari,” as its referred to in Nepal, human trafficking, and natural disasters that cause poverty like the devastating earthquake in Haiti. However, just because Amina from Afghanistan is courageous enough to not be masked and muted anymore behind her burqa, or Suma from Nepal inhabits the strength to escape from her masters house and a lifetime of servitude, the film fails to recognize that there is a risk from the culture and society elements which no doubt would have challenged these girls choices.
Instead, I think the director/filmmakers should have spent a bit more time developing that behind each of these girls’ courage was a support system in the form of a mother, a father, a brother, a teacher and even in one story the police. Because sure, it only takes one to ignite a ripple effect for change but the change occurred because of the support system each girl had that lead each girl to take a leap of faith.
Although the film presented a simplistic overview of the issues that girls face I can appreciate and give great praise to the writers of each of the stories. A lot of the times in documentaries, writers censor the stories to make it more polished or professional. There was a level of authenticity that the writers allowed, which I found refreshing. They let the girls true charisma and personalities shine through.
Overall though, I’m happy I did see it as it opened my eyes that even though all these girls are from different areas of the world they still face similar challenges. But I ask what about the at-risk youth right here in the states?
Interested in seeing the film? Host or find a screening near you!