A Beautiful World: Want to save the world? Educate girls

Girl Rising a group that aims to educate girls across the world
Girl Rising is a group that aims to educate girls across the world to help eradicate global poverty.
Courtesy of Girl Rising

Five years ago, a group of filmmakers set out on a lofty mission: Create a documentary showing how to end global poverty.

What they ended up with was a global movement aimed at educating the world's girls called "Girl Rising."

The theory, which they discovered after collecting data from global experts in health, commerce, and energy, is that getting girls into classrooms is the single most powerful way to end global poverty.

Let that sink in.

"When you educate girls, incredible things happen," said Martha Adams, producer of the documentary film called "Girl Rising." "Infant mortality goes down, literacy goes up, crop yields go up, national security improves, gross GDP improves and suddenly your nation is competing on the global market."

Creating the film and then a book of the same name proved to be the easy part.

UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, reports that more than 130 million girls are missing from classrooms worldwide.

And while sending girls to school has proved successful in fighting global poverty, it is poverty that prevents millions from ever going. School is not free in more than 50 countries.

Suma is one of several girls featured in the film and book "Girl Rising."
Suma is one of several girls featured in the film and book "Girl Rising,'' which has grown into a global movement aimed at getting girls an education.
Courtesy of Girl Rising

Take Suma, from Nepal, for example.

Suma is a girl featured in the film who was not allowed to attend school. Her last name is not included in the book and film.

As a kamlari, or bonded servant in Nepal, she was born into indentured slavery. She was first bonded when she was six, according to the book that features the stories of many girls across the world.

"Both my parents have been bonded kamlari. You have to bond yourself to a master or there's no way to live," she said in the film.

And as such, she had to clean her master's house, wash the dishes and go to the forest to fetch firewood. She had to tend to the goats and care for the children.

At her third house when she was 12, a lodger there was also a teacher named she Bimal Sur.

"He changed my life. He convinced my master and mistress to enroll me in a night class," she said, adding that the students would gather after work and learn to read and write.

"I loved that night class so much. It was run by social workers for girls just like me," she said in the film.

Suma was able to complete her education and obtain her freedom. She went on to help other girls caught in kamlari.

Tanya Stone, author of the book "Girl Rising," which documents the movement, said in an interview that the stories of girls getting educations inspires her.

"You know, there's been so much turmoil and negativity lately I've been looking for moments to find beauty and I'm finding it in the voices and faces of people who are fighting for anything that they believe in to be good and true," she said.

"There are so many issues on the table right now, to see the forward movement of people who care about change and who care about their fellow citizens is a beautiful thing."

This story is brought to you with help from the Pohlad Family Foundation.

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