Meryl Streep's Humanitarian EffortsOften called one of the greatest living actresses, Meryl Streep is one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed stars. With a film career dating back to the 1970s, Streep has racked up an impressive resume, winning two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and seven Golden Globes — among other awards and countless nominations.

Known for her impressive accent impressions and desire to perfect any role she plays, Streep is extremely dedicated to anything she finds passion in. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when it comes to philanthropy and humanitarian work, Meryl Streep is dedicated to every cause she supports.

Girl Up

Girl Up is a massive organization that focuses on empowering young women and girls. Many influential people have supported the organization in various ways, including fashion photographer Nigel Barker, former NFL player Wade Davis, and Meryl Streep herself. One of Girl Up’s biggest priorities is girls’ education worldwide.

Through a collaboration with the organization, Meryl Streep co-narrated the film Girl Rising. The 2013 film highlights stories of nine girls from Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India, and Cambodia. The film highlights the various obstacles girls in underdeveloped and developing countries face to become educated. By lending her voice to a film with such an important message, Streep inevitably brings in an audience that may not have otherwise tuned in.

Gender Equality

Meryl Streep has also been involved with a variety of panels and events dedicated to gender equality. In 2015, she attended the sixth annual Women in the World Summit — an event started by journalist Tina Brown in an effort to make people “engage with the world and see beyond our own”. Meryl Streep was part of a “Three Great Women of Film” panel, in which she stressed the importance of empathy, telling the audience that nothing matters more than a film’s ability to make people feel what others feel.

In 2016, the White House screened the CNN documentary We Will Rise, which highlights girls in the pursuit of education in Liberia and Morocco. Then-first lady Michelle Obama spoke about her travels to these two countries in Africa, and how she saw the troubles that many girls face concerning education. Meryl Streep, staying true to her passion for global girl’s’ education, accompanied Michelle Obama during these travels. Meryl Streep, therefore, was very supportive of the former first lady’s Let Girls Learn Initiative, an initiative that focused heavily on the reasons that girls are unable to receive an education.

Additionally, Meryl Streep has signed several letters and campaigns calling for gender equality. In 2015, the ONE Campaigned penned an open letter calling for women to be focused on in the UN summit; Streep signed this letter. She also signed another letter on International Women’s Day in 2016 in the name of gender equality.

Streep is a spokesperson for the National Women’s History Museum and has made various donations to the museum. She notably supports the Women in the World Foundation. First launched in 2011, the foundation uses the power of the Internet to determine which causes need which solutions — awarding grants as is seen fit. Streep also supports CHIME FOR CHANGE, which has successfully funded hundreds of projects in 80 countries in the name of health and justice for women and girls.

Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts

In addition to independently supporting various organizations, Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts blossomed into her foundation. Based in New Jersey, USA, Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts is Meryl Streep’s organization co-founded with her husband, sculptor Donald Gummer. Much of the funding goes towards arts-based organizations such as Mass MoCA, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the National Museum of Women’s History.

However, the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts has also made contributions to women’s and environmental organizations such as Women for Women International, the Women’s Refugee Commissions, the Rainforest Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Additional Support

Since its establishment in 1983, Streep has created a foundation that gives to a multitude of organizations. However, as highlighted previously, Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts don’t stop there. She also supports Artists for Peace and Justice, an organization that has donation 100 percent of its donated funds to Haiti in the aftermath of its disastrous earthquake.

Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts expand to alleviating hunger and poverty through her support for causes like Heifer International. This organization provides livestock as well as training to low-income families. By providing training, these families and communities can expand their livestock and become self-sufficient — which is the ultimate goal in poverty relief.

With a history of giving back almost as extensive as her film career, it’s clear that Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts are extremely important to her. Largely devoted to causes pushing for equality, Streep has served as an excellent role model for what a philanthropic celebrity looks like.

Emily Cormier
Photo: Flickr

“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