ABC News’s Jacqueline Calayag reports:
Knowledge is power, but tens of millions of girls worldwide are denied that power because of barriers to education.
“Girl Rising,” a documentary from Oscar-winning director Richard Robbins, chronicles the stories of nine girls from nine developing countries, striving to overcome obstacles just for a chance to become educated.
Nine renowned actresses – Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, Chloe Moretz, Freida Pinto, Meryl Streep and Kerry Washington – lend their voices to narrate the girls’ tales.
Kerry Washington, the star ABC’s hit show “Scandal,” voices the story of Suma, a 16-year-old from Nepal who manages to free herself from forced labor.
“She is a young woman who has been able to overcome odds that are unimaginable through the power of learning,” Washington told “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts.
For Washington, the film has become a passion project. Robbins, a former writer on “Scandal,” originally approached her.
“One of the producers is Richard Robbins; he came to me, he said, ‘I know you’re very passionate about women and girls,’” Washington said. “‘We’re making a film about the power of education to transform girls’ lives all over the world, and they’re taking that power and paying it forward.’”
The statistics speak for themselves: 66 million girls worldwide are out of school, according to Education First, an initiative of the United Nations Secretary General, and 33 million fewer girls than boys attend primary school, according to UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
“And it really is a life-or-death issue,” Kerry said. “If a child is born to a woman who can read, they are 50 percent more likely to live above the age of five. So this is about saving children’s lives.”
Actress Pinto also narrates part of the film. She hopes it will motivate viewers to promote change.
“The call to action, it’s probably the most important part of a documentary film like this,” Pinto said. ”You show them that there are various ways in which you can come forward and help. Whether it’s voluntary work, it’s hosting screenings, and creating awareness.
“Money, which is a very, very important part of it.”
Today, on the UN’s International Day of the Girl, people all around the world are organizing screenings of “Girl Rising” to bring the voices of these girls to their own communities. It’s not too late for you to do the same: to learn how you can bring “Girl Rising” to your community, go to GirlRising.com, and help spread the message: Educate girls, and you will change the world.