“A revolution,” Justin Reeves told the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel’s conference room full of women as he justified the force behind his groundbreaking film Girl Rising, promoting worldwide female empowerment. At the panel, the Lux & Eco team was joined by its partner UN campaign Girl Up, the Girl Scouts of America, Plan International, and dozens of individuals – with a promising male representation in the audience too! – to kick-off the 57th Commission on the Status of Women by opening up the discussion regarding society’s sole indicator of well-being: its girls.
The film, created by the global action campaign 10×10, highlights 10 girls living in 10 countries around the world – mostly in developing nations – as they narrate the way overcoming gender barriers and cultural restraints gave them the educational opportunities they always dreamed of, resulting in happy, healthy adulthood. With the production team’s journalistic expertise and inherent concern for humanity’s current and future condition, Girl Rising was created. The trailer alone will have audiences in tears.
And the emotions that exude from the documentary-style scenes are undoubtedly warranted. Currently, the world’s leading cause of death between 15-19 year old girls is childbirth, an ironic atrocity. In a scenario our bodies were naturally meant to create and endure, the majority of our youth is dying – and primarily in poverty-stricken countries such as Ethiopia, Liberia, and Guatemala.
Rooted by gender discrimination based off of dated societal norms, the young girls in question are disadvantaged at birth. Some cultures insist its females eat last at meal time, leaving them with little nourishment after a day of cleaning, cooking, and even walking miles to retrieve clean water and food, only to be denied it at the end of the day. Low income families cannot meet school tuition demands and see keeping their daughters back because of it as relieving a financial burden. These young girls in turn never receive proper schooling to know their rights or their choices, let alone career training for the future. They are never given a nutritional or sexual education or informed about how to protect themselves from diseases and HIV/AIDS.
Instead, they are married off before most girls in developed nations get a drivers license. They are impregnated before their bodies can physically carry another life, let alone deliver it. Those who do survive childbirth, often in lieu of proper midwifery, are left with reproduction-debilitating fistula – affecting 3.5 million victims this very minute. Their bodies are weakened, their funds dwindle, and their options for happiness fade.
But with proper education this vicious cycle of poverty and death, of disease and exploitation, can not only be prevented, but eradicated. These girls are not yet supposed to be housewives or mothers. These girls are not meant to be slaves or victims. These girls are writers, doctors, lawyers, teachers. These girls are healthy and brave and successful. These girls are passionate. These girls are educated, and they have the right to be.
This is the message behind 10×10 and Girl Up, and this is the premise of Girl Rising: it is possible to change the trajectory of women’s rights, producing safe and successful girls who build healthier communities, and eventually nations. Come join Lux & Eco for Girl Rising‘s showings March 8 -15 at New York City’s Cinema Village, every day at 1:05PM, 3:15PM, 5:15PM, and 7:15PM, with tickets available through the venue’s website and box office. Additional showings will be held at Battery Park Stadium 11 and Union Square Stadium 14 through Gathr, with times and dates for each on the Gathr website. To donate to 10×10’s Fund for Girls’ Education visit 10x10act.org and to donate $5 to Girl Up text GIRLUP to 27722!