Girl Rising Prompts Gender Discussion
*Asia Society, Apr 2013
Asia Society hosted a partial screening of the documentary film Girl Rising, followed by a panel discussion on the importance of educating girls, featuring Holly Gordon, Executive Director of 10X10; Shabana Basij-Rasikh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of SOLA, School of Leadership Afghanistan; Su Balasubramanian, Program Officer of UN Foundation; and Zoe Timms, Executive Director of Women's Education Project.
Girl Rising is a 10x10 film by Academy Award-nominee Richard Robbins that tells the story of extraordinary girls born into injustice and the power education has to offer hope and inspire change. The film attempts to answer the question, "How do you end global poverty?"
Gordon said educating girls should be a no-brainer. "The outcomes across sectors of global development; every sector improves when you keep girls in school through adolescence." Balasubramanian concurred, stating "the highest return on an investment that a development dollar can make is by educating an adolescent girl."
Drawing on the stories of girls from Nepal, India and Afghanistan, the discussion centered on the issue of culture as a barrier. When asked why she is willing to risk her life to educate girls, Basij-Rasikh said she believed that people in Afghanistan are pro-education and always have been, but war has prevented them from being able to pursue that option. Both Basij-Rasikh and Gordon stressed the consequences of labeling girls' not being able to go to school a "culture."
"By calling it cultural, we run the risk of saying it doesn't need to be changed," noted Gordon. "If you want to change a culture, you have to be messaging a change in the way of seeing what's possible and what shouldn't be happening. The idea for Girl Rising is that communities bring this film and use it as a way to begin a discussion in their own community, in their own language, at their own pace, with their own priorities."
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