Girl Rising: Bringing Education to Girls around the Globe

by EMILIE KILFOIL '17


“Educating girls can transform families, communities, countries, and eventually, the world.” This idea stands as the central message of Girl Rising, which is a documentary and a movement raising awareness about educational disadvantages of girls in the developing world.

A group of Greater Cincinnati high school students was introduced to the movement in a showing on Friday, December 5, in the Keller Center. The event was sponsored by Catholic Social Teaching Action Team (CSTAT), whose mission is to provide information to SUA regarding social injustices. Ms. Kemper, the moderator of CSTAT, says that the lack of education for girls “is [an] extremely important [topic] and an issue very much in the global spotlight right now.”

The evening showcased a series of clips from the documentary that inspired the event, Girl Rising (2013), which features 9 girls from some of the poorest countries in Asia, Central America, South America, and Africa. It is a moving account of these girls and the disadvantages they have overcome to pursue their dreams. The theme of the video is to raise awareness of the fact that 66 million girls in the world do not currently attend school, even if that privilege is given to their brothers. In the impoverished nations in which these girls live, there are insufficient resources to send all children to school, so parents must make a choice. Usually their decision ends up with boys being given educational opportunities, and girls without a say in the matter at all.

But it is not just poverty that stands in the way of these girls and their educations. Among the obstacles that the girls face are forced marriage at a young age, gender discrimination and violence, harmful social norms, and domestic slavery.

Often the girls who cannot attend school are then bonded as servants as a way to get money to their family. Other times they are married young and sent away without ever receiving any form of schooling.

Preventing gender discrimination and encouraging education for women does not just benefit these girls; it promotes a happier and healthier world, as well as spurs economic growth. When education of women grows by 10%, there is a corresponding increase in gross domestic production (GDP) of 3%.

Children born to illiterate mothers are 50% less likely to live past age 5, yet 496 million women over the age of 15 are unable to read or write. In addition, educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school. By promoting education for girls, Girl Rising hopes to influence not only the current generation, but the many that will come. If given the opportunity to attend school, the girls will pass on the same opportunities to their children. It is highly likely that a girl will marry later in life if given education, and it diminishes the likelihood of her being a victim of domestic violence.

As students at an all-girls school, we can attest to the benefits of educating young women. How can we help these girls who may live on the other side of the world, but share our same dreams? One of the leaders of CSTAT, Katie Jira ’15, says that “two main ways SUA girls can help out others across the world [include] being an advocate and informing others of the troubles girls face all across the globe [and donating] time or money to causes that help educate girls.” As thinkers, leaders, nurturers, and prophets, there are many ways to battle this injustice.

Thinker: Value the quality of your education.

Leader: Be informed about the amount of girls worldwide who don’t share

this privilege.

Nurturer: Be willing to help. Whether or not you donate to the cause, giving money to mission collection every week helps others who are in similar

positions and also face economical disadvantages. Katie also says that SUA’s weekly “mission collection supports several organizations such as Afghan Institute of Learning which raises money for girls in Afghanistan.”

Prophet: Share the movement. Talk to your family and friends about the

challenges of girls in third world countries, and brainstorm what you can do to help. Ms. Kemper says that “as prophets, SUA women need to be the voice for these young girls across the globe as we all [...] try to make progress together.”

For more information, see Girl Rising’s website here:

http://girlrising.com/grow-the-movement/.