Last Thursday, as I sat in a plush red velvet seat at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), I looked at the screen as the camera panned out from Senna’s home. Hundreds of rickety little homes, just like Senna’s came into view, followed by hundreds more, all clinging to the mountainside of a bleak Peruvian mining town; La Rinconada, the highest inhabited city in the world and I thought ‘How do people live in such harsh conditions? How can these families move on, break free from this poverty?’

A few years ago a group of journalist asked themselves a similar question ‘How to end poverty? They didn’t have the answer so sort out some experts and they found that researchers had seen that where ever countries were investing in educating girls, things across the board were getting better – better health, better living conditions, less violence against women, less child marriages.

The journalists wanted to make a film that would inspire people to take action, something that would make a difference. Their job was to tell the story but they knew they needed help to reach the widest audience possible. They approached the Intel Foundation who already support numerous programmes around the world empowering girls. Intel were eager to help and used their experience to develop a marketing strategy that would make an impact. With the help of a number of NGOs working around the world, including Plan, they found the stories they wanted to tell. Plan UK is an organisation I have supported for many years and through which I sponsor a girl in India. I was delighted when they invited me to the preview in London at BAFTA of this amazing new film.

Girl Rising

A ground breaking film directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robins, Girl Rising tells the story of 9 extraordinary girls from around the world, written by 9 celebrated writers, and narrated by 9 renowned actresses.

Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Plan ambassador Freida Pinto are among the star names narrating the stories from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru and Sierra Leone.

The stories in this film are heartbreaking but full of hope.

Stories like that of Sokha, who once spent her days sifting through rubbish on a Cambodian rubbish dump; an orphan with no foreseeable way of changing the path life had chosen for her. Or 7 year old Wadley, whose life literally came crashing down around her when her home and school were destroyed in Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake. She missed her school and was overjoyed when a temporary school opened only to be told that she could not go because her mother had no money. But Wadley’s desire to learn was irrepressible ‘I will come back every day until I can stay.  This wonderful film shows how these and other girls like them have fought against the odds and are winning!

Girl Rising to be shown nationwide in the USA from 19th to 25th April

If you live in the US then I urge you to go and see this film. Visit the Girl Rising website to find a cinema near you. 10×10, who produced the film, hope to bring it to the UK this summer.


Sarah Brown, at London screening of Girl Rising at BAFTA, Courtesy of Alison Baskerville/Plan UK

Sarah Brown, at London screening of Girl Rising at BAFTA, Courtesy of Alison Baskerville/Plan UK

Plan Talks in the UK

Before the screening I attended last week in London, Sarah Brown, chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education and wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, spoke of the importance of educating girls around the world. This was one of a series of talks organised by Plan UK, by women for women with the aim to empower women and girls around the world to achieve their potential. You can find out more about Plan Talks here and follow #PlanTalks on Twitter.

Did you know?

  • Globally, 66 million girls are currently not enrolled in either primary or secondary education (UNESCO, 2012).
  • A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult. (The World Bank, 2011)
  • 50% of all the sexual assaults in the world are on girls under 15. (UNFPA, 2005)
  • 14 million girls under 18 will be married this year, 38,000 today; that’s 13 girls in the last 30 seconds (UNFPA, 2012)
  • The number one cause of death for girls aged 15-19 is childbirth. (World Health Organisation)
  • A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5. (UNESCO, 2011)

Girl Rising

Each girl who goes to school,

every parent that says no to child marriage,

every brother that stands up for the rights of his sister

makes a difference.

Be part of the difference.

Find out how by visiting Plan UK’s website and please take a moment to sign their petition or make a donation no matter how small, it all adds up and together WE can make a difference.

Plan has branches all over the world. Visit Plan International to find out more.



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