'Girl Rising' tells the struggles of nine girls for educational equity

craig.sailor@thenewstribune.comOctober 25, 2013 

When a Taliban assassin climbed into the school bus carrying Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, he was trying to permanently silence the 14-year-old who was determined to bring educational opportunities to girls like her.

Yousafzai was airlifted to Great Britain with life-threatening bullet wounds she suffered in the 2012 attack. But since that day, Yousafzai has recovered enough to address the United Nations and was rumored to be up for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yousafzai has achieved worldwide recognition because of that incident, but it is not an uncommon theme throughout the world. A film about nine ordinary girls and their struggles and triumphs to overcome societal or cultural barriers to obtain an education will play Monday in Gig Harbor as a benefit for three charities.

“Girl Rising” tells the stories of the girls from nine countries: Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India and Cambodia. Each of the girls re-enacts her own story as it was written by a writer from her own country.

The 2013 film was directed by Richard E. Robbins and features narration by Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Chlo Moretz, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington.

The local screening was organized by Scott Smalling, a Gig Harbor native and local philanthropist.

“I’m doing this to raise awareness of the plight of women,” Smalling said. “It’s going to be a wonderful event for the community and a nice chunk of change for the three charities.”

All of the proceeds will go to three nonprofits: Strong Women, Strong World (part of World Vision); YWCA of Pierce County; and Jubilee Women’s Center of Seattle. Each attendee will be able to choose the nonprofit to which their money will be directed.

Smalling is motivated by his Christian faith and the desire to raise awareness about the barriers to education many girls face.

“Girl Rising” will be shown simultaneously in at least two theaters and possibly three, depending on ticket sales. One of those theaters will be dedicated to youth invited from several local groups and admitted at no charge.

“I wanted to make sure a large group of youth came to the event,” Smalling said.

An introduction to the film will be presented by Cynthia Breilh, national director of Women of Vision. Also speaking is Hilary Sparrow, a senior manager with Vulcan Productions. Vulcan was a co-producer of the movie and is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

A silent auction and a raffle will precede the screening. “Girl Rising” is rated PG-13 and is 1 hour, 41 minutes long.

Yousafzai continues her activism on behalf of girls and women. In an interview Monday with New Delhi Television, she said she is not afraid of the Taliban.

“They are afraid of us. They are afraid of women. A woman is powerful, but when she gets education she becomes more powerful. And the terrorists do not want women to take part in the society, in the development of a society. They think that the only job of women is to cook food, to serve the family, to give birth to children, to feed them.”

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 craig.sailor@thenewstribune.com

Girl Rising

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday; doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Galaxy Uptown Theatre, 4649 Point Fosdick Drive NW, Gig Harbor

Tickets: $15 adults, $7.50 students younger than 18; brownpapertickets.com/event/477738

Information: girlrising.com

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