Celebrate International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. Woot woot! I celebrated International Women’s Day a day early by going to the movies, and I strongly recommend you do the same thing!

PrintLast night I gathered some of my girlfriends around me and we went to see a new documentary that’s just been released, “Girl Rising.” The film is by 10×10 Productions for the purpose of advocating for increased access to education for girls globally. It’s an extremely well done film. Nine girls from nine countries were paired with nine writers, each from her own country, to help her tell her story. The stories are then narrated by well-known actresses (such as Meryl Streep and Selma Hayek). There are some facts and figures around the issues of girls’ education interspersed amongst the stories, depicted very creatively and effectively.

Each girl shares her story in a unique way–it’s not fiction, but it’s not straight, traditional, documentary-style movie-making either. I found myself getting lost in the beauty of the telling and having a different type of emotional reaction than I have had to other traditional documentaries on similar topics I’ve watched in the past. And although each of these nine girls comes out of circumstances that are heart-breaking, the film doesn’t dwell there: Instead, the stories they tell are of hope and courage. The girls talk about how they overcame their circumstances through personal strength and through education. As my friends and I talked about it while we were walking out of the theater, different girls or different parts of their stories had struck home with each of us in some way or another. I’m still finding myself dwelling on the girl from Peru. But no spoilers here.

As I looked around the theater prior to the film starting, I was gladdened to see the number of girls who were attending–some with their mothers, others in groups by themselves. There were girls there that looked to be as young as maybe 9 or 10 years old, through high school and perhaps early college. The audience was easily half under 21. More than the film, that observation gave me hope for the future. Two of our group had younger children who had been asking them about this film before they went–one a daughter, one a son–and both mothers are thinking about bringing their children to another screening in our area happening next week. What a wonderful opportunity to have some family discussion around these topics.

You can view a trailer at the “Girl Rising” website, www.girlrising.com, as well as find a wealth of other resources there, including fact sheets on girls’ education, a screening guide with discussion questions you could use in a group, downloadable flyers and other promotional materials, and a page of “where are they now” updates on the girls featured in the film–although I’d highly recommend you don’t read those until after you’ve seen the documentary!

How does “Girl Rising” end up in a movie theater?

“Girl Rising” is being screened in theaters through grassroots movement. People request it to be shown at their theaters, and then spread the word. Theaters are booked through Gathr.us, where anyone can sign up to book a theater and then get the required number of people to reserve tickets. Once the number is achieved, the screening is “green lighted,” and you’re good to go. I first got an email from Sandra Uwiringiy’imana. (If you listen to our podcast, you might remember her from episode 38.) Sandra was hard at work to bring a screening of “Girl Rising” to our city. I immediately went onto Gathr.us to reserve my own ticket–I believe I was reservation number 4 or 5 at that point; I then forwarded the information to everyone in my email list that I knew had an interest in the topic, encouraging them to reserve tickets for themselves, or bring youth groups, bring women’s ministry groups–anyone they could find. I then, in faith, began to make plans to attend with my friends. Earlier this week we got word that the project had been greenlighted. We were thrilled!

You can check the Gathr.us website for screenings that have already been greenlighted near you, or for those that are in process–perhaps your reservation might put it over the tipping point! If there are none near you, why don’t you start the ball rolling yourself?

Is it a fundraiser?

Yes, it is, but the fundraising aspect happens at the very end and is very “soft sell.” 10×10 Productions partners with organizations at work in this field and the funding raised through “Girl Rising” and other donations goes to those organizations. You’d probably recognize some of the partner organization names: CARE USA, UN Foundation/GirlUp, World Vision, and others. They’ve posted on their website charts and graphs showing the breakdown of funding from ticket sales and donations. Although they hope to raise funds through the film, they are primarily working towards raising awareness.

I do highly recommend “Girl Rising,” and I found it meaningful that I got to see it in close proximity to International Women’s Day. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to see it…or make the opportunity for you and others to see it in a theater near you.

How are you celebrating International Women’s Day? If you’re hosting an event or attending one, please be sure to post it on our Facebook page.

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