UPDATE: See Girl Rising this Sunday, June 16th on CNN at 9PM EST!!!
In an increasing effort to shine a light on what happens when girls in the developing world rise up and above obstacles in their lives, 10X10 films brings us Girl Rising by Academy Award nominated director Richard Robbins. Nine girls’ stories from around the world. Each girl paired with a writer from their own country to tell of the journey to where they are now. Narrative performances by Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchette, Salma Hayek, Selena Gomez, Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, Priyanka Chopra, Kerry Washington, Chloe Moretz, Liam Neeson, and Frida Pinto draw you in.
Wadley, a precocious third grader in Haiti, loves going to school. She takes pride in memorizing her history passages. One evening while doing her homework the earthquake hits. Wadley and her mother’s world is turned upside down and around. In the aftermath, Wadley walks a long way each day to get water for the family. One day she sees that the school has opened up again; Wadley runs home to tell her mother. Heartbroken when her mother tells her she can’t go to school because they don’t have any money, Wadley decides to go to school the next day. Her teacher recognizes her and tells her unless her mother has paid she has to leave; embarrassed Wadley walks home. The next day she vows to go back until they let her stay.
Azmera was 13 when her mother was about to agree to an arranged marriage to some strange visitors one day. The only daughter alive in her family, Azmera and her brother are all their mother has left after her husband dies early and she loses a child still young. Thankfully, just in the nick of time, Azmera’s brother walks in from tending the fields of Ethiopia and sees what’s about to happen. In a chivalrous gesture, he pleads with his mother and puts his foot down as the man of the house saying that Azmera will not marry one of the men.
Those were the easiest stories to take in. However each story, no matter the outcome, grips you in the heart and squeezes. Every girls’ story is compelling. Interlaced with statistics of what happens when countries decide to educate their girls or not, Girl Rising demands we take notice and action.
In their own way each girl gives us solid reasons to help their fight. Amina, the 11 year old forced into marriage in Afghanistan puts it quite eloquently and to the point, “I will read. I will study. I will learn. If you try to stop me, I’ll just try harder. If you stop me, there will be other girls who will rise up and take my place. I am change.”
If those girls can fight for themselves in some of the most dire circumstances, surely we can take time to speak up for them and others like them around the world.0