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Feminspire | April 20, 2014

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Girl Rising: The Story of Nine Women Fighting For the Right to Learn

Girl Rising: The Story of Nine Women Fighting For the Right to Learn

A film that educates, inspires, moves, shocks and calls audiences to rise, is showing in select theaters around the United States. Girl Rising, produced by the 10X10 Campaign, shows us why educating young women is so important.

The film takes you through the lives of nine different girls living in various developing countries. For the project, each girl was paired with a female journalist, who helped transform a personal story into a narrative masterpiece.

Each girl’s story is recreated in film, using various artistic styles—animation, documentary, and reenactments. The girls star in their own stories and are paired with narrators, including the likes of Alicia Keys, Salma Hayek, and Meryl Streep.

The film uses the personal narratives and mind-blowing statistics to show audiences why education plays such a vital role in a young woman’s life.

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Not only do audiences have a chance to learn about and connect with the featured girls, but they also learn about the types of situations and circumstances that can be avoided if a girl is educated and attends school.

For instance, girls are less likely to marry and have children at a young age if they are educated. This is crucial, because one of the highest causes of death for young girls in developing countries is complications in child birth, according to the film. Other examples include the decreasing percentages in sexual violence and contraction of STDs.

One of the most startling stories is that of an Afghan girl, Aminia, whose real name cannot be revealed in order to protect her safety. She is the only girl who has an actress play her role rather than starring in her own story. Her identity cannot be compromised because her husband and community would most likely kill her if they found out she was speaking out in protest against her situation.

However, despite her struggle, she is able to gain education due to the generosity of free educational groups. The film shows other stories of girls who fight against the tyranny in their lives to gain access to education.

Sokha from Cambodia transforms from a “dump child” to a beautiful, educated traditional dancer. A Nepalese girl, Suma, breaks away from her life as an indentured servant or “Kamlari” and joins an activist group who frees other Kamlari so that they can be educated. Wadley, who is displaced from her school due to the devastating earthquake of Haiti, insists that she is allowed in school even though her family can’t afford it.

These girls fight through unthinkable situations and circumstances to receive access to education—an institution that many people deem as a natural human right rather than a privilege. Most privileged women, whether that be white, upper class, or residents of developed countries, take education for granted, while these nine girls—and thousands of others—will struggle to go to and stay in school.

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The film uses these nine narratives, facts and figures, moments of tears and laughter, and a message of hope to inform and reach out to audiences. Girl Rising teaches us about education opportunity differences in developing countries and what we can do to make a change.

To learn more about Girl Rising, the 10X10 Campaign, and what you can do to help educate girls around the world, visit

Written by Angela Schifani