It is truly amazing what one girl can do. When a girl ventures out into the world, alone, she is met with many dangers. This is particularly true in a world befallen to globalized patriarchy and dystopia: Where there are societies that permit legal marriages between girls as young as 7 to men old enough to be their grandfathers. In societies where girls are forced to cope with victimization and a deficit of self-determination. In societies that uphold the binary of gender, allotting certain privileges to be exercised by those who perform male rather than female attributes, thus lending itself to a world that perpetuates the contiguous disenfranchisement of future generations based on a difference as minute as gender. These minute differences lend to what can ultimately be understood as sources of the oppression and marginalization of girls who are relegated to lifetimes of poverty and crippling indigence.
In the documentary film Girl Rising, there are nine stories by nine girls that evidence the aforementioned travesties and more. Beyond our wildest imaginations lie their stories of struggle, adversity and perseverance. Their strife begins and is reproduced at a systemic level, one that embeds and proliferates the disproportionate impact of censorship of girls’ bodies, volition and desires in society. Therefore, girls that venture out into the world alone put their lives on the line. Girls that endeavour to control and direct their own bodies, minds and dreams are agents of change. Collectively, they pose a direct challenge to institutionalized disenfranchisement and phallocentristic exclusion. Collectively, they demand a space that inhabits the public sphere of power and influence, a sphere that we, i.e. everyone, must reclaim and re-envision for elevation of conscientiousness and humanity.
As a supporter and organizer of the San Antonio Feminist Film Festival (SAFFF), I’m looking forward to watching SAFFF’s special screening of Girl Rising on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at the Alamo Drafthouse – Park North at 6:30 p.m, 618 NW Loop 410. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Click here for details.
In most patriarchal societies, girls are conditioned to fear their ambition which inhibits their realization of liberation and freedom. Girls from all factions of society are being conditioned to remain below the glass ceiling never to be conscious of their true abilities and capacities. These embedded fallacies in the current state of societies have caused an increase in the decline of societal virtues. In Girl Rising, the reality of this degradation in societies is highlighted and these crimes being committed are magnified. We are then forced to bear witness to the strength and conviction of young, brave, girls determined to make change. The power of one girl daring to be a change agent is met with many challenges, though she is not alone – in her daring, she rises as the voice and example for doing what needs to be planted as a new memory in the minds of the young and a reminder to the learned. A reminder that against all odds the fight continues, and although these inhumane conditions exist, we all have an individual responsibility to mold and shape this world into one that is more habitable and truly equal for all.
When girls are subjected to systemic inequality and marginalization, as they were in Girl Rising, they are disproportionately blocked and stifled in criminal ways. Their inability to access institutions of learning, education and personal hygienic items, just to name a couple of barriers, to enable their mobility and decided contribution to their success and dreams collectively represent draconian crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are widespread attacks on targeted groups of otherized people suffering under oppressive and obtrusive regimes that govern both their public and private being. Around the globe, girls are restricted in their access to the exercise of full citizenship, a privilege that they are not typically given without a struggle and concerted fight. Their everyday efforts in this fight are illustrated in their active and continuous refusal to accept the status quo as their reality, as portrayed in Girl Rising.
In 1983, Baba Thomas Sankara stated that “there is no social revolution without the liberation of women.” Girl Rising is an embodiment of this quote. Though I have not seen the movie yet, after watching the trailers, I was most compelled by Wadley Germain’s story.
Wadley is a radiant girl from the Caribbean island of Haiti. After the earthquake, Partners In Health (PIH) came across Wadley and captured her magnificent story of bravery, vigilance and tenacity. After receiving permission to share her story with the world, PIH in concert with 10X10, elevated her story to be received by a larger audience.
I want to learn more about the dynamics of Wadley’s life, how she coped after the earthquake with death and new beginnings. Though I was not in Haiti during the earthquake, I was en route, waiting on a boarded plane in Washington, D.C. When I learned that Haiti had been ravaged by the earthquake and that my trip was cancelled, I sighed with relief that I had not traveled to the island nation but quivered at the thought of what I would have seen had I arrived there as planned. While I watched the trailer for Girl Rising, a part of me sought out a familiar struggle and Wadley’s was a stark reminder of how globalization has resulted in the vicious spread of capitalism but also the fierce ferocity that our youngest members of society have to acquire in the most Darwinistic sense. Her shining light and unshaken will left me in a state of awe and yet touched me in a way that urged the question “what can I do to fight against a system that is eating away at humanity?” Added thoughts ran through my mind as I sat in amazement of the shear power that one girl can wield when placed in circumstances of disparaging inequality where the unachievable somehow becomes possible.
To learn of the feats of others, especially girls that have found ways to pursue their truth despite their indigence and deprivation, is an empowering feeling for people of all walks of life. Most times, the unfortunate reality is that most of these feats are commonplace for girls in societies plagued by patriarchy and destitution. It compels those fortunate enough to live in more egalitarian societies, to remain cognizant of the misfortunes of others afar that are not foreign to those nearby. Reminding us that these same crimes against humanity impact our lives just as significantly as our counterparts abroad. Also reminding us that these same crimes against humanity impact us in subtle yet grandly immense ways that exist largely unbeknownst to our collective consciousness.
The discourse that will ensue after Tuesday night’s special screening of Girl Rising at the Park North Alamo Drafthouse will impart knowledge and bridge gaps among communities of girls and women with the power to change the world.
Luckens Cadet contributed to this story.
Top image: Behind the scenes of Girl Rising in India. Photo by Martha Adams and Gina Nemirofsky, courtesy of 10x10act.org.