What do Selena Gomez, Chloe Moretz, and Anne Hathaway have in common? Aside from being Hollywood It Girls, they are some of the actors who lent their voices to Girl Rising, a documentary that tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries. The full-length film is the center of the global action campaign of the same name, which promotes the importance of education for girls. Did you know that there are currently 39 million girls between the ages of 11 and 15 who are out of school? Neither did I.
I was able to catch the 30-minute preview hosted by Intel, ADB, and Plan International last week, and two lines stayed with me long after the screening: "Thoughtless were my mother and father / they gave birth to a daughter." These are lyrics written by a girl from Nepal named Suma, who used to be a Kamlari or a bonded laborer. Her parents were Kamlaris, too, and they bonded her to a master at a very young age, as was the practice for girls. She would work from early morning until late at night without pay. Meanwhile, her brothers got to stay home and go to school.
In the movie, Suma goes for a bike ride, showing you the different houses, where she worked and talking about her masters and mistresses. You stop at a certain house; she can't talk about everything that happened to her there. Seeing the intensity in her kohl-rimmed eyes, you can only imagine the worst.
Suma coped by writing songs. She had learned how to read and write at the night school she was allowed to attend at one point, and with the help of a kind boarder at one of the houses she served in.
"Change is like a song you can't hold in," Suma says. It affects one person and then another, until everyone is singing along. A social worker at the night school she attended went to her last master’s house day after day to argue her case, until she was finally set free. Now, Suma is her own master, helping to protect other girls from suffering the same fate as her.
Suma's story is incredibly inspiring, and I’m sure the rest of the stories are as well. You can catch the screenings on the following dates:
- October 11, 1:30 to 3 pm – Jose Rizal University, Mandaluyong
- October 11, 3 to 5 pm – Munoz Covered Court, Betty Lou Daul Center, Livelihood Street, Batasan Hills, Quezon City
- October 13 and 26, November 16 and 30 – Betty Lou Daul Center, Livelihood Street, Batasan Hills, Quezon City
Visit 10x10act.org and find out how you can arrange a screening at your own school.