Seven Facts About Girls' Education in Peru

Girls’ access to education is a topic that has rightfully garnered a lot of attention in recent years. With organizations such as Girl Rising, which began as a 2013 film documenting girls who faced obstacles in receiving education and has since become a renowned advocacy group, the circumstances prohibiting girls from receiving proper education have come under scrutiny. From societal pressures to financial hardships, there is a variety of reasons as to why millions of girls can’t reach their potential through education.

Like in many countries around the world, girls in Peru are at a disadvantage when it comes to their educational opportunities. While there are girls around the Western South American country who are able to complete primary and even secondary schooling, education beyond that is often not accessible, especially for girls in rural areas. The following seven facts about girls’ education in Peru explain how the girls in Peru are at a disadvantage for their education.

7 Facts about Girls’ Education in Peru

  1. There is a 6 percent gap in literacy rates between genders in Peru. An estimated 97.2 percent of males 15 years and older can read and write, while 91.2 percent of females 15 and older are literate. While this difference is not huge, it is still significant.
  2. With 45 percent, and still rising, of the population under 25 years old, Peru’s education system is faltering. The government is being forced to spend more on education than is allotted in its budget in order to provide free education to children between 6 and 15 years old. While this free education is meant to be mandatory, many students, male and female, are still unable to attend. In fact, only 36 percent of girls in rural areas of Peru end up graduating from secondary school.
  3. Of Peru’s 31 million citizens, 22.7 percent live below the poverty line; that’s more than seven million people in less than liveable conditions. Many families living under the poverty line also live in rural areas, creating more obstacles for girls wanting to go to school. These girls would have to walk to and from school, and in cases where only afternoon classes are offered, many would be forced to stop attending out of fear for their safety.
  4. In 2001, a law improving access to education for girls in rural areas was passed. However, the results have been more surface-level than actually yielding tangible progress. Mainly, the law has resulted in activism on the subject of girls’ education. While more awareness is always helpful, active change in education opportunities is the ultimate goal.
  5. Because Peru’s population is largely made up of young people, there is a disproportionate ratio of students to teachers available to work. These scarce and largely underqualified teachers are unable to provide adequate learning environments to students, let alone give guidance to further propel students’ education opportunities. Some teachers are not even fully versed in the subjects they are meant to be teaching.
  6. Organizations such as Peruvian Hearts are working to make tangible differences. Working directly with Peruvian girls and young women living in rural areas, Peruvian Hearts not only offers quality educational opportunities but also one-on-one guidance and community involvement to create well-rounded young women.
  7. Basing their selection on the girls’ financial needs and display of ambition and willingness to learn, Peruvian Hearts gives their selected girls financial scholarships, college tuition and room and board. Their 100 percent success rate with girls completing secondary school means that more girls can continue their education in college. Additionally, the organization provides the girls with English lessons to further prepare them for higher education.

These seven facts about girls’ education in Peru highlight the setbacks many young girls face regarding their access to education. However, these facts also shed light on the progress made both in legislation and through organizations. Ultimately, despite the obstacles, more girls are slowly gaining the education they deserve.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty FilmsGlobal poverty is a worldwide issue that is still prevalent today. According to UNICEF, one billion children worldwide are living in poverty and 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. However, many people do not know the extent of global poverty and how big the issue really is. That is why films realistically showing global poverty are important to today’s society, as these films that can spread awareness about the issues being presented along with a compelling story. These are five top global poverty films that help shine a spotlight on social causes around the world.

Top 5 Global Poverty Films

  1. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
    Set in India, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Jamal Malik, an 18-year-old boy raised in the slums of Mumbai. The film depicted many hard to watch, yet realistic, scenes of poverty in India, including children being recruited to beg on the street for food, and children living in extreme poverty being forced into labor to survive. The film was widely acclaimed and became extremely popular; in 2009, it was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won eight of them, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won seven BAFTA Awards, five Critics’ Choice Awards and four Golden Globes.
  2. Queen of Katwe (2016)
    Queen of Katwe is a film based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in a slum in Katwe. The movie follows her journey as she learns and begins to excel at chess, with the goal of lifting her family out of poverty. Queen of Katwe was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and ESPN films, receiving praise from critics as a realistic portrayal of poverty in Africa. In a review by Angela Watercutter for WIRED, she writes, “it is a very Disney movie in that it centers around a family and has a happy ending, but it is a very un-Disney story in that it unblinkingly examines the poverty, violence and racism its protagonists face every day.” It also had a high profile cast—starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga, which helped to raise even more awareness for poverty in Uganda.
  3. The First Grader (2010)
    The First Grader is based on a true story about Kimani Maruge, an 84-year-old Kenyan villager and farmer who enrolls in elementary school after the Kenyan government announced free universal primary education in 2003. The film shows a realistic depiction of rural and urban Kenya, as well as many issues that those living in extreme poverty in Kenya had to face both at that time and in the present, such as lack of access to schooling, being separated from family and having to suffer in work and prison camps at the hands of the British. The film raised a lot of awareness of how big the issue of lack of schooling and access to education is in Kenya and Africa. National Geographic described its impact as “a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.”
  4. Neria (1993)
    Neria, made in Zimbabwe’s golden age of “Zollywood,” is a story about a rural woman who becomes a widow, and loses her farm and livelihood. Neria became the most critically-acclaimed film of the decade and highest-grossing film of all time from Zimbabwe. Part of its popularity came from the fact Zimbabwe’s biggest cultural icon, Oliver Mtukudzi, made the soundtrack. This star power gained global attention, with major U.S. newspapers reporting about it, leading to much more awareness about global poverty and poverty in Africa.
  5. Girl Rising (2013)
    Girl Rising is a documentary-style film that follows the stories of nine girls from Haiti, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Peru, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan on their journey to education. The film highlighted issues surrounding girls’ educations around the world and promoted the organization Girl Rising, which works to ensure that girls around the world are educated and empowered. Girl Rising has partnered with Michelle Obama by producing the documentary special We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, which has become one of CNN’s highest-rated documentary specials.

These five films show how film can be an amazing medium for spreading messages and garnering worldwide attention. That is why films surrounding global poverty are so important, as they are able to raise awareness for a number of prevalent issues.

– Natalie Chen
Photo: Creative Commons

Women RefugeesGlobally, various disasters and conflicts displace approximately 68.5 million people—half of whom are women—and force them to turn to refugee camps in order to fight for survival. But these women refugees are not on their own.

A global campaign, “Girls’ Education and Empowerment,” is headed by a nonprofit organization known as Girl Rising. Girl Rising sheds light on refugee crises which affect women and girls the most. Since 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows that a multitude of factors, such as persecution, violence, conflict, natural disasters and human rights violations displace refugees. Of the millions of refugees, more than 50 percent are under the age of 18.

Girl Rising: Examples of Progress

Upon the launch of the global campaign in the year 2012, Girl Rising’s goal was to change how people value and invest in girls and girls’ potential. To complete this goal, the organization created a media-driven campaign and grassroots programming with on-the-ground partners in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For 2019, the organization wants to expand its on-the-ground partners to include Kenya and Guatemala. To date, results for Girl Rising’s efforts include girls re-enrolling in school, parents deciding against early marriage, girls learning their rights and teachers creating gender-equal classrooms.

Release of “Brave Girl Rising: A Refugee Story”

As a way of bringing awareness to challenges faced by refugee women and girls, Girl Rising produced and launched a film titled “Brave Girl Rising: A Refugee Story.” Released on International Women’s Day in 2019, the 20-minute film told the story of a 17-year-old girl, Nasro, in Dadaab refugee camp, one of the world’s largest refugee camps. In order to capture the true, raw reality of life in these camps, Girl Rising wrote and made the film in collaboration with other refugees.

One of the founders of the Time’s Up movement and powerful women’s advocate, Tessa Thompson, is the voice of the film. Poet, Warsan Shire, was in charge of writing the screenplay. To promote the film, the social change agency, Amplifier, had the street artist, Ashley Lukashevsky, create art. The film also received support from the projects founding partner, Citi.

In collaboration with Girl Rising, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) had a hand in the creation of this film. The IRC is an organization that works to respond to humanitarian crises. The committee helps to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people who have been greatly affected by conflict and disaster. They engage with girls, their parents, caregivers and community leaders to combat harmful gender norms and practices.

Many people and organizations have come together to bring awareness to refugee crises and women refugees in creative ways. The continued advocacy and fight to end these crises has to be consistent and passionate to make a change.  

– Lari’onna Green
Photo: Google

Girl Rising
Girl Rising is a campaign to both improve and bring awareness to global education for girls. One of the primary ways they attract attention to this issue is through storytelling in the form of film.

In 2013, the film “Girl Rising” was released. It follows the stories of nine girls from impoverished countries around the world: Haiti, Sierra Leone, Peru, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Egypt and Cambodia.

Each girl’s story has a well-known narrator. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the cast includes Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson and Cate Blanchett. Many of the actors involved do separate philanthropic work related to educating and empowering women.

The film was directed by the Academy Award-winning director Richard Robbins, who also came up with the idea for the film. He made sure that the focus of the movie remained on the stories of the protagonists.

To help the girls communicate, Robbins told Huffington Post, he implored the film’s writers to spend time with the girls in order to effectively tell their stories. While the film “Girl Rising” came before the current campaign to spread awareness for girls’ education, Robbins says, over the course of making the film, it became “clear that we needed to build an organization that was capable of working in all the ways the film alone could not.”

Girl Rising now partners with NGOs including CARE and Room to Read in their mission to bring education to girls globally.

In collaboration with the Pearson Foundation, Girl Rising also offers a curriculum that educators can use to bring awareness to the issue of education for girls who have difficulty accessing it on their own. Factors that contribute to this lack of access are poverty, a reaffirmation of a cult of domesticity for women and foregoing education in order to get married and have children.

Girl Rising is also currently carrying out a campaign called ENGAGE, or Empowering Next Generations to Advance Girls’ Education. ENGAGE is a “USAID-supported public-private partnership” which is “working in India, Nigeria and The Democratic Republic of the Congo, pairing storytelling with local social action campaigns.”

The website for Girl Rising offers multiple options for those interested in getting involved in the cause, be it anything from donating money, to using Girl Rising’s curriculum in their schools, to raising awareness by organizing a viewing of the Girl Rising film.

Katherine Hamblen

Sources: Girl Rising, LA Times, Huffington Post
Photo: Vimeo

1. Malala Yousafzai works tirelessly as a young advocate for female education, despite being shot in the head last year by the Taliban for these very same efforts. She—in her bravery and brilliance– exemplifies the struggle for girls’ education everywhere.

2. Hillary Rodham Clinton, having served as the first lady and Secretary of State, is now a partner with her husband and daughter at the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Within the organization, she has committed herself to improving access to female education and empowering women worldwide.

3. Richard Robbins directed Girl Rising, the extremely popular new documentary that tells the stories of nine struggling girls in the developing world. The film, which has met with great success, espouses the urgent global need for equal access to education.

4. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn published “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” in 2010, a compelling journalistic account of the developing world, and more specifically, of its disadvantaged women. The book, which spans the entire globe and a diverse set of lifestyles, seems to somehow convey a singular edict: in order to progess—particularly in the developing world– we must provide all women access to an adequate education.

5. Lawrence Chickering has worked for more than thirty years in order to improve the conditions of girls in the developing world, particularly in India, a country where 40% of women are not educated beyond the fifth grade level. His NGO, Educate Girls Globally, has significantly improved female enrollment, retention, and performance in India’s government schools, giving girls access to a variety of transformative resources.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: CBS News, Huffington Post, The Guardian

“I feel as though I have power.” These are the powerful words of one of nine girls whose stories are documented in the critically acclaimed film “Girl Rising.” Released this year and featured on CNN recently, the documentary follows the struggles of nine girls in nine countries all striving to achieve the same goal: an education. The obstacles they faced were daunting. From forced marriage to war, from bondage to orphanhood, these girls were able to climb out of the depths of despair with a perseverance that has already inspired millions.

The film’s Academy Award nominated director, Richard Robbins, describes his film project’s founding goals as, “Change minds. Change lives. Change policy.” His vision has since led to the 10X10 organization, a campaign that strives to educate girls around the world. Centered around the film, 10X10 has spread its roots through partnerships with companies like Intel that run programs to educate the world’s women, and through networks like CNN that promote women’s education via featured programs and documentaries.

Among the inspiring stories told in the film are those of Sokha and Azmera. Sokha, an orphan from Cambodia, struggled for most of her life to find enough food to eat. And Azmera, one of two children in her Ethiopian family, was nearly married off at the young age of 13. But for each girl a guiding light,  a “series of miracles” in Sokha’s case, and an incredibly supportive brother in Azmera’s case, helped them get to school. Sokha and Azmera’s narratives are shared by those of their counterparts in the film originating from Egypt, India, Nepal, Peru, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Sierra Leone.

These girls have found fans in some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Salma Hayak, Cate Blanchett, Frieda Pinto, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Chloe Moretz, and Alicia Keys have all joined the campaign and are featured in the film.  In Meryl Streep’s own words, “If to see it is to know it, this film delivers hope; reasonable, measurable, tangible hope that the world can be healed and helped to a better future.”

– Lina Saud

Sources: 10 By 10 Act, Girl Rising, CNN
Photo: WWeek

Who Runs the World? Girls
‘Never stop trying.’ ‘Choose your own destiny.’ ‘Follow your heart’. These are the types of responses that prevailed when CNN asked people around the world to reflect upon the premiere of CNN Films’ upcoming documentary, “Girl Rising,” a powerful documentary that aims to prove how education can truly change the world, especially for young girls.

“Girl Rising” follows young girls from around the world in their quest to change their lives through education. Studies have shown that education can be “the most important factor in lifting a girl from poverty, mistreatment and drudgery into a fulfilling and rewarding life.” The CNN-sponsored documentary seeks to prove this idea through the personal triumphant success stories of real girls who are forging their paths in the world against all odds.

When asked to share their own advice, many people around the world wrote into CNN with personal stories of their own struggles and to show their support of the documentary’s message.

Most of the respondents were women like Meera Vijayann, who grew up in a small town in southern India and left her job at the city’s matchmaking and firework industries to pursue an education, finally succeeding in becoming a writer and nongovernmental organization worker. Irene Moreno Jimenez, whose remarkable late mother’s teachings and childhood in Mexico inspired her to dream big and value her mind as “the place where freedom is fought for—and won.”

Though the women who responded to CNN’s question hailed from different corners of the globe, their essential message was the same. These women’s tales encourage young girls and women to keep an open mind, not get discouraged by setbacks, and dare to dream.

What these women’s stories and “Girl Rising” hope to communicate is that education is more than the sum of its parts. Education is not merely a collection of diplomas or a good report card or an expensive textbook. Rather, education’s importance lies in its ability to allow girls to face the challenges that lie ahead of them with courage and determination.

“Girl Rising” aired on CNN On June 16th and features renowned actresses and writers including Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Selena Gomez.

– Alexandra Bruschi

Source: CNN, Women News Network
Photo: Raising Jane