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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The continuing rise of ‘Girl Rising’

Published: March 28, 2014
Section: News

Mandel G3’s seats were filled with a small crowd of students, mostly young women and few young men for a film screening of “Girl Rising” followed by a question and answer session with the producer, Justin Reeves, on Tuesday, March 25. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Global Brandeis, Department of Anthropology, the Education Program, the International and Global Studies program, the Brandeis South Asian Studies Program and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

“Girl Rising,” the film, focuses on how education has impacted the lives of nine girls from Cambodia, Haiti, Nepal, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Peru, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Their experiences were conveyed through voice-overs written by a woman writer from each girl’s country. An array of famous women such as Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Kerry Washington lent their name to the cause. Between the vignettes were segments, narrated by Liam Neeson, designed to educate the viewer with statistics related to young women around the world. For example, there are 33 million fewer girls attending primary schools than boys.

Reeves spoke and explained the context of “Girl Rising.” It came out last year on International Women’s Day, and now, anyone can bring the film to any organized event or a theater to spread a simple but powerful message—educating girls will change the world.

To Reeves, the idea behind making this film was “to show the opportunity that the girl represents, not the difficulties that she faces in her life.”

After the screening, he fielded questions from students in the audience. Most of the questions centered on how they obtained these stories and what happened to the girls in the film. All answers pointed to the same conclusion that this film, and this movement, provides honest accounts of real girls and their uplifting experiences to push forward their fight for girls’ education.

“Girl Rising” is continuing to rise. The film has been translated or dubbed in over 30 languages, and a remake with Bollywood actresses is on the way. Tens of millions have seen the film, donations to the Girl Rising Fund measure more than $2.1 million, and The Girl Rising Country Partnership (GRCP) continues to raise awareness and take community action in the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Nigeria.

But one of the movement’s main focuses is on gaining individual support through film screenings like these. On the “Girl Rising” website, they call for everyone to take action: “It doesn’t matter what it is, or where. What counts is that we all do something.”