Stars come together for girls' education

Story telling is one of the most important mediums to evoke a sense of responsibility towards the society.

Keeping this thought in mind, Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, is set to engage kids through films. The initiative made its entry in India here in the city on Saturday.

The campaign encompasses storytelling to spread awareness of things girls can achieve if educated. To grab eyeballs, the campaign has roped in actresses Freida Pinto and Priyanka Chopra, who enjoy wide global fan base.

“We choose them as they are great performers, are passionate about the issue and platform and lastly when you have an issue like girls education it is important to have visible icons to carry the message,” co-founder and CEO Holly Gordon told IANS before the official launch.

The campaign in India would be focused on getting more girls past Class 10, increasing secondary school completion rates for girls and reducing gender-based discrimination in India. The program includes film narrated by Chopra, Pinto and seven other Bollywood names, a mass media campaign and an aggressive grassroots campaign.

“The best thing it is universal in nature. It is not like the problem is only in India – yes there is – but it is a problem in other nations as well. It just took one phone call from me to other actress associated with the project for them to come on board. It proves another point as well that female actresses get along” said Chopra.

Pinto plays an oppressed girl in Trishna, which is set to release in India in January 2015. The actress says the role helped her reinforce her belief in the cause.

“I always felt that it was calling in this area but the project made it more clearer. A part of my job is to research, for the role I met a lot of people, I went to several villages in Rajasthan. The things I saw is beyond your imagination. Girls getting married at the age of 13 and getting pregnant at 15... I mean you hardly get your period at that age. It opened doors for me,” said the Slumdog Millionaire actress.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided start-up funding for Girl Rising: ENGAGE INDIA (Empowering New Generations to Advance Girls' Education), to bring Girl Rising to India.

As Indian sensibilities are different, the campaign has been tweaked a little bit. The film highlights the stories of nine girls, striving against difficult circumstance to achieve their dreams.

“The campaign will be partner-led. Our partner will tell what will work in India and how to go about it,” Holly Gordon said.

The official announcement was made at an event held at American Center, hosted by Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Kathleen Stephens later in the evening.

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