“Girl Rising,” a documentary that uses the power of storytelling to share the simple truth that educating girls can transform societies, inspired more than 100 attendees during a screening recently held on campus. Paige Gress ’15, senior civic leader in the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning (CCESL), introduced the film and highlighted the community partnerships that made the joint endeavor possible.
In addition to the Colleges, the screening was presented by the Zonta Club of Geneva, Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, the Geneva League of Women Voters, Lake to Lake Women, Yates Branch AAUW, Peace Corps, Girls Scouts of NYPENN Pathways Inc., Geneva Public Library, and the HWS Media and Society Department.
The cinematic documentary is about the everyday lives of young girls across the world. Each story is an honest depiction of the danger, sexism, hopelessness and oppression girls living in every country on the planet face daily. The documentary shows viewers harsh realities but offers a solution: Educating girls can break the cycles of poverty, hate and sexism in just one generation.
Among the facts the film points out is that millions of girls never step foot in a classroom of any kind and those who do are often threatened with being disowned, raped or killed. “I could not help but feel grateful for how lucky I am to have been born in the United States. Even though I believe I am still not afforded the same rights as my male counterpart, I can be grateful for the fact that I am allowed to attend school without fearing for my life,” reflected Olivia Dudo ’15 after seeing the film. “Those who saw the film needed to discuss their feelings after witnessing crimes against these young girls. But most of all, we needed to talk about what we are going to do next. What are we, as privileged Americans, going to do to get the millions of girls without education into the classroom?”
Students in Professor of Media and Society Linda Robertson’s “Introduction to Social Documentary” class interviewed audience members for their reactions to the film and all reacted positively to the message and the goal of the documentary.
“The collaboration of seven local organizations to bring this documentary to Geneva was so positive and exciting. It was wonderful to see an audience ranging from tween-age girl scouts — who baked all the cookies — to college students (male and female), to older Americans. It was empowering,” said Katie Flowers, director of CCESL. “And to have HWS students filming audience reactions afterward demonstrated that educating girls all around the world is a top priority for our future.”
The rights to show the movie were collectively purchased and the video is now available through the HWS library. Additionally, $225 was collected through audience involvement and donated to Katahdin Foundation, Inc. which is the fiscal sponsor for Girl Rising. Katahdin is a nonprofit, 501(C)(3) film production company. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Additional information is available online at girlrising.com