Girl Rising

I found this while looking through The Harvard Independenta student run paper at Harvard University:

Harvard screens the limited-showing documentary about female empowerment.

Photo by Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Educate a girl, change the world.”

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, The Harvard Graduate School of Education presented a screening of the documentary Girl Rising. The film delineated the story of nine brave girls from nine different countries who were – against all odds – fighting to make an impact.

The social-issue film talked about the barriers to education girls in particular have to face. According to Education First, there are 33 million fewer girls than boys receiving a primary school education. Even more troubling is that in a single year, an estimated 150 million girls are the victims of sexual violence, and 50% of all sexual assault victims are girls under the age of 15.

If watching a documentary simply feels like consuming medicine, its influence may be limited in the scope of people it can genuinely reach. Therefore, director Richard Robbins thought of a brilliant and creative idea for a “spoon full of sugar” type film. He had nine writers from each of the nine countries represented in the documentary – along with nine celebrities – tell this powerful story with passion and conviction. All nine girls are young heroes who sacrificed and fought with might and courage for things we as viewers take for granted and some we cannot even imagine.

One of the girls mentioned in the documentary, Malala Yousafzai, is a young woman whose heroic actions did not go unnoticed and, unfortunately, unpunished. Malala was 11 years old when she started blogging entries from her diary for BBC. She would talk about her unceasing urge to get an education in the midst of intolerable Taliban rule. Pakistan has the lowest youth literacy rate in the world, and Malala wanted that to change. She committed no inhumane crimes and hurt no one, but was shot for insisting on girls’ right to education. She suffered for others’ ignorance. She left — and continues to leave — an influence that can’t be eradicated and a path that can only lead forward, steering her nation and the rest of the world away from the dangers of such ignorance. Her shooting sparked worldwide anger and the refusal to silence the voices of thousands of other girls.

The film demonstrates that providing a girl with even a few years of schooling can have a momentous effect, reverberating throughout the community and breaking a seemingly continuous cycle of poverty. According to The World Bank, a girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult.

Farhana Nabi ’16 conveyed the significance of screening this film along with its impact on the Harvard community:
“This film was presented to raise awareness, not just of the injustice that women and young girls face all over the world, but of their strength and courage during these times, of their desire for an education regardless of their situation. And most importantly, it speaks of our roles and responsibilities to these girls and women. As students of Harvard University, we are given a privilege to make a difference in the world and especially in the lives of girls like Suma, Yasmin, and Azmera. This screening was an awakening into the real world that highlighted the importance of education. It was a call for action, for hope, for education. For empowerment. As Harvard students, we are very lucky. We are able to attain the greatest education in the world, and it is important for this community to remember that some people are not so lucky. Any education at all is a gift, and a gift should always be shared. Because when we share this gift, it grows, diversifies, and makes more of an impact than one could ever imagine.”

Through films like Girl Rising, we can come to imagine and sympathize with others who have lived through times and events that are

difficult for us to even comprehend. It allows us to spread the struggle of these brave young girls and encapsulate their heroic deeds and urgent call for action. As students who are receiving educations that millions of girls can’t even dream of, we are responsible for speaking for those whose voices are being silenced.

Albert Murzakhanov ’16 (amurzakhanov@college) is thankful for his education.

by Albert Murzakhanov from The Harvard Independent


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