Moira McCann Moderelli is a writer for 10×10, a global action campaign for girls’ education, with the new feature film, “Girl Rising,” at its core. “Girl Rising” was produced by the award-winning team of former ABC news journalists at The Documentary Group in association with Vulcan Productions, strategic partner Intel Corporation, and distribution partner CNN Films.
How do you end global poverty? As questions go, that’s a pretty big one. The kind that’s too big to tackle in an easily accessible way. The kind that can make you turn away, frustrated and powerless. But the filmmakers behind the new feature film, Girl Rising, didn’t turn away. They were committed to finding an answer – propelled by the most basic tenet of journalism: follow the truth wherever it leads.
So they asked that question. Again and again. They asked policy leaders, economists, experts in agriculture and health and so on. And the same answer kept coming back.
How do you end global poverty? Educate girls.
Simply put: educating girls is the highest return on investment you can make to break cycles of poverty. Research shows that an educated girl will marry later, have fewer children, and educate the children she does have – sons and daughters equally. She is more likely to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS, and less likely to be a victim of domestic violence. She’ll earn more money, and is more likely to become a community leader.
But the other overarching truth that the filmmakers encountered at every turn was this: girls around the world face barriers to their education that boys do not – and the upshot is, they are being left behind by the millions. Gender violence, discrimination, bonded servitude, school fees (parents who are forced by economic necessity to choose almost always educate sons over daughters)… and the situation that three of the girls in the film faced: early or forced marriage. Marrying very young typically ends a girl’s education. Having children while still a child herself is often accompanied by physical, emotional and economic hardship.
The research is there. But few people are inspired by facts and figures, so the “Girl Rising” team found stories behind the statistics. The film, directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, spotlights nine extraordinary girls from nine countries, whose stories are written by nine celebrated writers and narrated by nine renowned actresses.
But Girl Rising is not about being uplifting: it’s about telling the truth. It’s about real life. Life is messy, life is hard – and life is beautiful and striving and hopeful and changeable. Just like the girls of Girl Rising. Girls who are not victims, not heroes – simply tellers of their own stories. The truth is complex – and these filmmakers trust their audience to understand that.
They also give viewers a way to become a part of an exciting movement. A portion of ticket proceeds goes to the 10×10 Fund for Girls’ Education, and we encourage any- and everyone to contribute directly to the fund. To learn more, and to donate, go to: girlrising.com. And that will make you feel good. But Girl Rising is not a mere “feel good” film – it’s a feel real film.
And you will leave it knowing this: when you educate girls, extraordinary things happen.