Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Girl Rising" India premiere

In the midst of a busy week of research, I was invited by CARE to attend the "Girl Rising" Premiere on Tuesday evening.

The event was focused upon calling attention to the continued efforts to empower women in India. As I've mentioned in previous posts, India is truly a nation of contrasts when it comes to gender equality - in a place where women have served at the highest levels of government, as beloved leaders, and where mothers are revered by their sons, there is still an enormous level of inequality in even basic social constructs.

And while you see modern, educated women everywhere in the major cities, in leadership and managerial roles in companies large and small, you also have millions of women unwilling to leave their home for fear of harassment on the street - or worse. Sexual assault and rape are far too common.

Ms. Srinivasan

The program opened with a presentation by the President of Intel India, Kumud Srinivasan. She highlighted the work in the corporate and development worlds that has been underway to try to address this inequality.

Ms. Bhan moderating the panel

Afterward, CNBC anchor and Delhi Bureau Chief Shereen Bhan moderated a panel discussion including CARE's own Andrea Rodericks and other NGO Executives about the work they are doing and their perspectives on progress in gender equality. There was overwhelming agreement that the single most important factor in bridging this divide is through educating girls.
Panel discussion - NGO executives. CARE's Andrea
Rodericks is on the far left.

Ms. Bhan interviewing Ms. Ghosh

Ms. Bhan then conducted a one-on-one interview with Debjani Ghosh, who is Managing Director for Intel South Asia, focusing on what it takes to succeed as a woman in this region, and what still must be done to empower more girls and women to take leadership roles.

Ms. Pinto introducing the film

Freida Pinto, the lead actress from "Slumdog Millionaire," introduced the film. Ms. Pinto has been a strong and active voice for gender equality in India, and played a pivotal role in bringing the film here. She gave a moving speech about the enormous return that investment in girls' education can bring.

Mr. Robbins, director of Girl Rising

She introduced Richard E. Robbins, director of "Girl Rising," who explained his thoughts behind creating such a film to highlight the plight of girls in impoverished countries, but also show those who have fought the odds and found a path to education - or who are still fighting that fight.

Each segment was written by a female author from each girl's home country, in partnership with the subject herself, and narrated by famous actresses like Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Cate Blanchett.

Opening scene of Girl Rising - featuring Sokha, who had
worked as a garbage picker at a dump in Cambodia as a little girl, before
finally going to school - and becoming a star pupil 
The film was truly moving. These girls struggle in a way that it is impossible to fully understand for one brought up with the privileges that birth in a developed country like the US can bring. One particularly heartbreaking story was of a young girl in Afghanistan struggling to be educated - yet was married to an older cousin at 12 and became a mother at 13. In another story, a family in India stays in Calcutta despite losing their home, just so their children can stay in school - something that would not be possible if they returned to their native village.

CNN has picked up the film and aired it in the US and Internationally already. Viewings can also be arranged via the website GATHR.

I highly recommend it!
Post-film reception - with information booths from the
NGOs who took part in bringing the film to life

After the film, there was a small reception/dinner. I had the chance to meet Mr. Robbins, and thanked him for creating such a beautiful and meaningful piece of art.

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