Throughout the developing world, many cultures propagate sexist ideas of how society ought to function. This manifest itself in several different ways. A common idea in parts of the world is that a woman’s duty is to obey their husband. As a reaction, many organizations strive to help these unfortunate individuals with everything from preventing pregnancy and STDs, to getting a complete education.
One of these organizations is Girl rising. In addition to broadcasting television in Kongo and educating girls, they are also well known for their documentary, also named Girl Rising. In Girl rising, we meet nine women/girls from different parts of the developing world.
The movies goal is a clear and noble one, raise awareness about the poor and oppressive conditions many people live in.
The one that really stuck with me, was Sumas chapter. Having been raised as a slave, moving from master to master, she eventually got her freedom thanks to people daring to stand up to the status quo.
Even though it’s a torching tale of a girl getting to taste freedom after a youth lost to a primitive mindset, we see how it took a group to make her freedom possible, no one can do it alone . This made me appreciate all the groups fighting for people like Suma, even more. Thanks to them, a cultural shift is occurring.
Making people truly empathize with people they’ve never met, and most likely will never meet, is a tough job. This is something Richard Robbins does masterfully. The sharp contrast between Wadley’s dream scene and reality is a good example of this. Her chapter starts in a field so lush it seemed like an advertisement for a high-class luxury resort. While we take in the landscape, the narrator tells us about the hope Wadley feels here.
Suddenly she is woken up. It was just a dream. Shortly after, her day-to-day life. Shooting the scenes like this, lets us see into the minds of the people depicted, is truly fascinating, and an ingenious way of making us relate to them.
The message people will take away from this movie will most likely depend on their views on gender-equality. Someone supporting it, might simply say “look at these poor girls, how could anyone support this?”.
Where I see the potential for progress, is for those who are more critical to gender-equality. The personal storytelling makes it much easier to empathize with the women and girls in this movie, and by extension everyone who is forced to live like they do. Therefore, I would recommend this movie to anyone who does not support gender-equality. I would also recommend it to those who are not as familiar with other parts of the world, and are not as familiar with the oppression women face still in some parts of the world.
“One girl with courage is a revolution” might mean that if one, or a small number of women and girls standing up to the oppressive societies they live in, they might be able to change it. This a nice thought that has the potential to inspire countless people, but that’s simply not enough.
We see time and time again that even if individuals like Suma stand up against the system, nothing will change. I’d say a better catchphrase would be “One girl with courage is a start, but a hounded may spark a revolution”, and that is what all these bold organizations can be a representation of. They show that with conviction and cooperation, true progress can be made.
In conclusion, the movie brings the issues of poverty and sexism closer to the watcher by showing the terrible conditions many people live in, and that this often is linked to discrimination. Everything from gender roles, to being sold off to afford a car, demonstrates that equality still has a long way to go in some parts of the world.