Summer is in full swing and so is the summer movie season, full of superheroes, aliens, explosions and monsters. Yet the best movie you may see all summer has none of these, at least not in the typical way you might think.
In this movie, the superheroes are girls.
The film, “Girl Rising,” tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries, poignantly and in their own words showing the barriers they face to education and the ability to determine their own future. These amazing girls show the obstacles millions of girls face around the world – barriers like child slavery, child marriage and poverty – that keep them from reaching their full potential.
One story that is especially compelling is that of Amina, a girl from Afghanistan. Amina was married to a cousin at the age of 11 for $5000, which her father used to buy a car for her brother. Amina has a child, though still a child herself. But she is determined to go back to school and finish her education.
While the goal of “Girl Rising” is to highlight the struggles girls face to access education, Amina’s story highlights another important issue, that of adolescent pregnancy. About 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth each year, most of them married like Amina. Yet adolescent pregnancy has serious health, social and economic implications.
Stillbirths and death are 50 percent more likely for babies born to mothers younger than 20 than for babies born to mothers aged 20-29. Babies of adolescent mothers are also more likely to be of low birth weight or stunted, with long-term and irreversible effects to their bodies and brains.
Ending child marriage is important to ensure that girls can stay in school and have a bright future. But in cases where young girls are married and pressured into having children, the health impact on both mother and baby has to become the primary concern. World Vision’s approach involves both training and supporting health workers who can help with pregnancy and birth complications, but also promoting healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy, which educates married girls and their husbands on why waiting to have children is vital to their health and the health of their baby.
Getting children “Beyond 5” involves a multitude of steps and interventions, but the first is ensuring a safe and healthy birth. Amina and her baby were lucky in that respect, but as the statistics show, millions of young girls and their babies are not.
If you haven’t, please watch “Girl Rising” and tell your family and friends about these nine superheroes and how to become involved with our advocacy campaign, Beyond 5. These girls are fighting for themselves, but we as advocates need to fight for them too.
To learn more about child marriage and its impact on girls, view World Vision’s report “Untying the Knot”.