GW and Girl Rising

Partnership helps promote girls' education and empowerment through storytelling

November 08, 2017


Gayatri Malhotra, Milken SPH ’19 (in flower print) with students at a government school in Punjab.

Gayatri Malhotra, Milken SPH ’18 (in flower print) with students at a government school in Punjab.

In India, Ruksana’s family lives on the streets, but her father has sacrificed everything to send his daughters to school. Ruksana’s life is filled with danger, but she escapes into her artwork and draws strength from her father’s resolve.

In Ethiopia, 13-year-old Azmera is told she must marry, but with her brother’s support, she says no. Instead, Azmera is pursuing her dream to become a teacher and a community leader, working against child marriage and helping other adolescent girls who aren’t able to attend school.

Ruksana and Azmera are two of the amazing young women whose experiences have been brought to life—and the big screen—through Girl Rising. The global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment uses the power of storytelling and media to change how people think about and value girls and girls’ education.

The original film, which debuted in 2013, features nine unforgettable tales of girls in the developing world, striving beyond circumstance and overcoming tough odds to achieve their dreams. Alicia Keys, Salma Hayek, Priyanka Chopra, and Meryl Streep are among the many leading actresses who lent their talents to give voice to these stories.

As Girl Rising’s academic partner, GW and Milken Institute School of Public Health Associate Professor Amita Vyas and her team amplify this inspirational campaign through research, training, events, advocacy, and on-the ground programs.

“For girls, adolescence is a time of great vulnerability and an ideal point to leverage development efforts,” she says. “However, despite the countless organizations providing health care, education, and other resources, millions of girls are not able to access these resources. Efforts will only flourish if we ensure that they actually make it in the door. Storytelling is helping us change how girls are valued so people see the impact of educating and keeping a girl healthy.”

Gifts to GW’s Girl Rising program advance this world-changing work in a variety of ways. Students will work on the production of new Girl Rising stories, travel to partner NGOs around the world, promote Girl Rising campaigns, and help translate tools into additional languages.

Help GW students find these amazing stories with a gift at: