As I write this blog entry on a fresh Melbourne morning I think about the inequalities I face as a female in Australia; My pay may be lower than my male counterparts, I might face sexism, I might be objectified and valued for by my looks rather than for my brain, or I might face gender stereotypes if I choose to start a family.
Yet can you imagine facing all of these inequalities, coupled with the fact that you may not be educated purely based on the fact that you were born a female?
Robbins’ (2013) film Girl Rising looked at a number of inequalities girls face around the world. He focuses on the true stories of 9 girls from Haiti, Cambodia, Nepal, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Peru, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan, ranging in age from 7-15 years old.
Below I will detail some of the individual barriers faced by these girls to receiving an education. However I STRONGLY recommend watching the film Girl Rising. It is a devastating yet inspiring story of determination as these 9 girls fight for what they think is right.
Wadley (Haiti, 7 years-old) – When Wadley’s home and school gets destroyed by the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, attending school becomes a treasured past time. Everyday Wadley walks numerous kilometres to retrieve water for her family. One day she notices a makeshift school has been erected on the site of rubble where her old school used to exist. Yet despite her extreme excitement, Wadley is turned away, being told to return when her mother can pay the school fees. Wadley knows there is no money for her to attend school, her and her family are struggling to even feed themselves. Yet Wadley’s determination is unstoppable.
“I will come back every day until I can stay.”
Her teacher, admitting defeat, allows Wadley to stay.
Suma (Nepal, 9 years-old) – Despite all of Suma’s brothers being sent to school, the extreme poverty faced by Suma’s family forces her parents to ‘sell’ her to their landlord under a practice known as bonded labour or Kamlari, as it is known in Nepal. They figured that at least she would have a roof over her head and food to eat working as a Kamlari.
Yet Suma faces both mental and physical abuse, is forced to work long hours on very little sleep, is provided little food and poor housing conditions and often does not have access to any kind of sanitation facilities – toilet or shower/bath.
After years of forced slavery she is provided with a glimmer of hope when a member of the Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) convinces her master to allow her to attend night classes held specifically for Kamlaris to learn to read and write. Over years members of the NYF work to free Suma from her life of servitude, eventually they are successful.
Robbins, R. (Director). (2013). Girl Rising [Motion picture]. USA: Documentary Group.