Increased education opportunities focus of acclaimed film

Local audiences will have the opportunity this weekend to take in a film that explores the urgent need to bolster educational opportunities for girls in developing countries.

Chris Smith, a local volunteer for World Vision, has arranged for the screening of Girl Rising this Saturday at Carnival Cinema, starting at 10 a.m.

“I think most people have heard about Malala (Yousafzai), the young Pakistani girl that was shot because she wanted to advocate for education for all girls. This film follows up on that – it’s the story of nine different girls in countries around the world who are recalling the terrible lives they’ve had, and how education helped them rise above it.

“If we educate them, their lives will be better and the lives of their families will be better,” she said. “Eventually their towns, their countries and the world will be a better place because of giving education to everybody, not just boys.”

Smith added that the powerful film has also been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“World Vision picked up on it and mentioned it to all of their volunteers and said they were trying to promote it,” she explained. World Vision officials also said that if anyone was interested in hosting a screening in their community, that the organization would do what they could to help make such events happen.

Smith said there are some 66 million children around the world who aren’t in school. And 235 million women in Asia who are illiterate.

She added that she immediately was interested in bringing the film to Red Deer, and has been organizing and promoting the event since. Community support has been solid as well, she said.

From Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, Girl Rising journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world.

As the web site points out, viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world – ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams.

Prize-winning authors put the girls’ remarkable stories into words, and renowned actors give them voice.

According to the Girl Rising web site, educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. “Educated girls stand up for their rights, marry and have children later, educate their own children and their families and communities thrive.”

Yet as already mentioned, millions of girls around the world face barriers to education that boys do not.

“Removing barriers such as early marriage, gender-based violence, domestic slavery and sex trafficking means not only a better life for girls, but a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all.”

Tens of millions of people have already seen the film in theaters, on television and at private events and are spreading its message throughout communities of all kinds –raising both awareness and funds, officials say.

Donations to the Girl Rising Fund measure more than $2.1 million to date, and organizations everywhere are using the film to raise money for their own girls’ programs.

On the local front, Smith said at this Saturday’s screening, there will also be information about opportunities to support children via World Vision, or about becoming a World Vision volunteer in this area.

For more information, check out