Right now in India there is a girl child with an unstoppable imagination. Millions of girls, in fact. In the Girl Rising feature film you will meet only one. Her name is Ruksana, armed with a megawatt smile and some art supplies, she is changing the world.
The color and vigour of the Indian chapter, told to you by Bollywood luminary Priyanka Chopra, is not only a tribute to one brave girl, but to a country of more than a billion with endless hope and passion.
So it is with great pride that we announce the Girl Rising ENGAGE program for India.
ENGAGE (Empowering New Generations to Advance Girls Education) is Girl Rising’s latest effort in the fight to ensure every girl has equal access to education. With the assistance and close collaboration of USAID, as well as our ongoing support from Intel Corporation and CIEE, ENGAGE brings the Girl Rising movement to places that need it most. Girl Rising is excited to launch the campaign in three countries in 2015, including India.
We elected India as one of the three target countries for the launch of ENGAGE due to its particularly alarming dropout and illiteracy rates. Of the country’s 200 million children, 8 million do not attend school; in fact, 48% of schoolchildren drop out before reaching the 8th grade to work and earn money to support their families. 23.1% of secondary school-aged girls do not attend school, and the average literacy rate for girls is as much as 20 points below that of boys. Gender-based violence and early marriage are two of the main sources for the high dropout rate of girls in particular. Thus, India seemed like a pivotal place to take Girl Rising’s message for the launch of our new campaign, but we needed guidance. We needed a local organization that could help us at the grassroots of our ENGAGE project.
Enter Educate Girls. Educate Girls is an NGO that works to tackle gender inequality issues in India’s educational system. Their approach focuses primarily on reaching individuals on the grassroots level in hopes of both spreading and fostering their goals for girls' education. The organization engaged with a broad community, with members of their various council groups ranging from 6th grade girls to school administrators to parents. Through the deployment of youth volunteers, female student groups and community members, Educate Girls seeks to push the importance of girls’ education to those people who have the most influence on girls’ lives and encourage them to make sure all of the girls in their town are in school. The most incredible aspect of this organization is its’ wide reach and ability to connect with an outstanding number of people of all ages. We are so excited to officially partner with them on this project.
The story will read like this: Educate Girls will use the Girl Rising tools with their grassroots network. They will screen the Girl Rising film at community meetings and create discussion questions related to the film in hopes of using the girls' stories to help attendees understand the urgency of getting girls into school. Their youth volunteers (Team Balika) will work to promote the film and the partnership throughout their own circles. The idea is for Educate Girls to incorporate Girl Rising resources to help further their already existing objectives.
The ENGAGE program in India marks the beginning of a new chapter for Girl Rising and the girls’ education cause and we are thrilled you are turning this colorful new page with us.
Lindsay Morris is the face behind Girl Rising’s global communications. When she isn’t tweeting up a storm, you can find her managing influencer relationships and heading up The Official Girl Rising Fun Committee. She grew up in Australia and now works out of Girl Rising’s New York Office.