On February 25, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., held a preview screening of the new documentary film, Girl Rising, produced by the 10X10 Campaign. While they showed only 30 minutes of what is a full-length movie, it was more than enough to thoroughly whet one’s appetite, and spark a discussion between the four panelists present and those in the audience.
Girl Rising, which features Disney icon Selena Gomez and Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, among others, follows the lives of nine girls in nine different countries, and each girl dreams of attending school. The film informs us that they are 9 of the 66 million girls worldwide who share this dream. The 30-minute glimpse showed how 3 of these girls were successful in changing their circumstances — through their own determination and strength as well as with the support of a community or family member. Poignant and touching, the scenes of the young girls reenacting their stories gave a slight tug at the heart strings, while simultaneously staying away from being overly sentimental, or clichéd.
It also must be acknowledged that this was yet another room full of Western— or at least Western working and educated individuals – people discussing the “foreign” issue of girl’s education and development. An audience member asked the panelists how they might better incorporate the problems in education that exist right here in the U.S. Holly Gordon, executive director and producer of the 10X10 Campaign, responded that CNN Films had expressed an interest in adding domestic stories to their roll out of this film, and the issues it champions. This was an important question to ask, and one we need to keep in mind when we engage on these topics — remembering of course that these are global issues, and not necessarily limited to the “developing” world.
Girl Rising will officially hit theaters March 7, and all proceeds will go towards advancing girls’ education internationally. There are ultimately few challenges more deserving of our attention, or which would reap more benefits worldwide, than the universal education of girls.