In the mood to watch a beautiful and eye-opening documentary?
Girl Rising is a visually astounding piece that follows seven young girls from developing countries and tells their stories. It is a documentary about the importance of education in the lives of young women.
You are introduced to Wadley, from Haiti, the poorest and most densely populated country in the Western hemisphere. She loves going to school and is in a perpetual good-humour. Then the earthquake happens and she is living in a makeshift UN refugee camp. She’s bored and misses school. She finds her old teacher teaching a class of children out in the open because the building has been destroyed. Her parents do not have the money for her to attend this school but she desperately wants to go. So… that’s just what she does. She goes and sits down to learn and the teacher sends her away for not paying. The next day she comes back and again she is sent away. She comes back the next day:
Teacher: Wadley, have your parents paid the fees yet?
Teacher: You will have to leave
Wadley: I can leave… But i will come back every day until you let me stay
And the teacher lets her stay.
Now that is a real Lean In moment. I wonder if i would have that type of bravery in a moment like that. The other girls in this documentary’s stories are equally as moving and demonstrative of pure bravery and desire to learn.
Meet Suma, from Nepal. Who was forcibly ‘bonded’ to a master as his slave at the age of seven. She worked morning until night. Then she got the opportunity to go to school and learn and now she actively ensures that the law is upheld and the archaic practice of ‘bonding’ does not occur behind closed doors.
This documentary, admittedly, brought me to tears at various points because i was so devastated and impressed by the challenges young girls from all over the world face and the courage they display in, what we would consider, a hopeless situation.
The other stories tell of enormous sacrifices made on the part of family to ensure the young girls get to go to school. The facts are startling. If we educated every child there would be 700,000 less HIV cases every year, girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to be married as children and a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive until age five.
Education seems to be the key to all of the harmful, backward, repressive practices that still occur all over the world today. In poor families boys are educated before girls, girl’s bodies are sold to settle a dispute, girl’s as young as ten are sold into marriages. It’s difficult to believe that merely being born a female can be like a disability- an assurance that you will lead a tough and demanding life.
These stories inspire me and fan the flame. For a while now i have been getting angrier and angrier about the issue of gender equality. Here in Ireland we have come a long way, but have a while left to go. Still only 17% of our government are women and women still must travel to England to get abortions. These are things i wish to see changed. This documentary has further convinced me of the power and importance of education. As they say, it is power, after all.