A few weeks ago I saw a film that both broke my heart and gave me hope. Girl Rising shares the story of 9 young women from different countries around the world through creative reenactments and vignettes.
The film traverses the globe, sharing the diverse stories of Suma of Nepal, who was forced into bonded labor at age 6, and Wadley, a plucky and boisterous young Haitian girl who is denied education after the earthquake, and about Ruksana, a girl in India who dares to dream despite the poverty surrounding her (learn about all 9 girls here).
It’s never easy to be hit with the stark stories and statistics of the gender inequity that still permeates our communities. In fact, it can be utterly paralyzing when you realize just how endemic violence against girls and women is and how few rights so many girls face around the globe.
It’s impossible not to seethe in one’s seat as you watch Yasmin, a young Egyptian girl valiantly paint herself as a superhero as a way to cope with her rape, and as Wadley is banned from school because her family doesn’t have the fees to pay, and as Amina (name was changed for safety purposes) recounts how she was sold as a young teen to her husband so her brother could have a pick-up truck.
This is not the world I want for my sisters.
Luckily the Girl Rising documentary is not without hope. One aspect in particular that I deeply appreciated was how it uplifted and highlighted the importance of men and boys as allies, not just as perpetrators of violence. Azmera’s brother in Ethiopia stops her pending marriage, Ruksana’s father provides perhaps the most heart-warming scene of the film when he brings her to the art shop to celebrate her passion rather than punish her, and you feel a sense of relief when the police officers affirm and comfort Yasmin, vowing to find her rapist. It can be easy to just lump all men together as the problem, when in fact, the truth is that the violence can only truly end when men and boys join the movement.
Girl Rising serves as a call to action for all of us, male and female – asking each of us in the audience to rise up alongside these beautifully courageous girls and to do what we can to change the narrative.
Girl Rising also serves as a powerful reminder as to why I am doing my work with Prosperity Candle. We must continue to find sustainable and tangible ways to offer women and girls access to opportunity and power. Economic independence is a key piece of this. In both Wadley and Ruksana’s story, we see the distressing effects of economic insecurity and poverty. Without adequate income, their families are unable to send their children to school, despite their deep desire to. If Wadley’s mother and Ruksana’s parents had had a stable and secure job paying above a living wage, the story would have been much different. This new narrative of prosperity is the one that the women we work with – Awatif in Iraq, Landie in Haiti and Moo Kho here in the US – are accessing through candle-making. They, and their children, are able to not just survive, but thrive.
Don’t miss your chance to witness the strength of the human spirit and power of education to change the world. Explore ways to watch the Girl Rising documentary here.
And join with us in rising alongside 9 super girls, and their 66 million sisters who deserve rights, education and the opportunity to flourish.
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