World Vision sponsor child Ruksana is one of nine girls featured in new film Girl Rising.
Today marks the second International Day of the Girl Child – a chance for us all to take a stand collectively for girls around the world. It’s an opportunity to lend our voice to put an end to the inferior treatment of girls.
With 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school and 66 million girls out of school globally, now is the time for action.
Those figures can make this problem sound vast and insurmountable but we know that if we can help just one girl get an education then we can change the course of history for her, her community and ultimately her country.
Every year of education means a girl is less likely to marry early. She will also start a family later and have fewer children. Her earning power will increase and with it, more money will go to her children.
This is the message we wanted to convey by producing Girl Rising, a film that shows how nine girls beat the odds of early marriage, child labour and other injustices to get an education. It brings to life the hope and opportunity these girls now have of a better future.
Using film to change and inspire people is nothing new. Films take us to places we may never visit and give us a glimpse of lives we may never live, both real and fictional. They can have a lasting impact on audiences – we all have favourite films and actors. Using film to bring about social changes can be difficult. Our challenge in making Girl Rising was to create a great film that people would want to go and see about an issue that is not considered mainstream.
We knew we had to come up with something with a unique formula. We were incredibly lucky that film director Richard Robbins was willing to lend his approach of mixing the styles of a documentary with a feature film. This formula proved to be successful in introducing audiences to the reality faced by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in his Oscar nominated Operation Homecoming.
We added to this formula by reaching out to Hollywood actors asking them to lend their voice to the girls featured in the film. Ten actresses including Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway and one actor (Liam Neeson) signed up and by doing so have helped enormously to amplify the voices of the girls and our message.
The response so far has been overwhelming. 150,000 cinema goers in the US have watched the film which was released there in March. CNN took up the rights and broadcast it globally in June. It has been shown in over 30 countries through our partners ahead of today’s global premiere which is timed to coincide with International Day of the Girl Child.
And this is just the start. By launching the film globally we hope to galvanise support in every corner of the world and in particular from people in Australia. The film is being screened in capitals around the country today and again in Sydney and Melbourne on Friday 18 October by World Vision with the support of Intel. You can purchase your tickets on the World Vision website. We hope that Australians will lend their voices to this project and help us achieve the aims of the film to give girls the chance of an education so they in turn can change their future.