32 Million Girls Out of Primary School. Help Tell Their Story.
Chapter 1: South & Central Asia.
Educating girls has gotten a lot of attention lately, yet far too many people still don’t realize how pervasive education barriers are throughout the world, especially for girls. The #GIRLWITHABOOK Project will travel through Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, and Pakistan exposing education barriers girls are facing every day. Our approach is twofold: document a day in the life of girls going to school in each country, and share the work of organizations and individuals who are breaking down their community’s barriers for girls and education. It’s a documentary endeavor, but for our viewers, it’s so much more than that. We’ll be posting videos, interviews, photos, vines, tweets, you name it, to our website and other social channels, allowing you to meet the amazing people we encounter, as we encounter them.
Globally, more than 32 million girls who should be in primary school are instead working, married, or otherwise prevented from accessing their education. Child labor, child sex trafficking, child marriage, poverty, and healthcare are some of the greatest barriers to girls’ education around the world.
Of the 774 million illiterate people in the world, two-thirds are women.
1 in 9 girls will be married before the age of 15.
The number one cause of death for girls age 14-19 is pregnancy and childbirth related issues.
Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.
The state of the girl child is dire. Fortunately, the way forward is clear.
Girls who are educated are more likely to delay marriage. They delay having children. They are better able to advocate for themselves in their relationships. Their earning potential increases 10-15 percent for each additional year of schooling. Their communities are healthier and more prosperous. And women who complete primary school have children who are 50 percent more likely to survive to age 5.
Educating girls is the smart thing to do. But you know what else?
It’s the RIGHT thing to do.
Education is a human right and girls are people. It’s as simple as that. And we want to share their stories.
Personalized Video Postcard from us while we're on the road! How often do you get a "hello" from Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, or Pakistan?
Bumper Sticker for anyone contributing at the $30 and $70 levels. Want a bumper sticker added to your order? Just add $6 to your contribution of $70 or more!
T-Shirt a unique design exclusively for our Kickstarter backers contributing at the $70 level. Want a t-shirt added to your order? Just add $35 to your order of $70 or more.
Original Photobook only 35 copies remain of the original photobook that Ban Ki-moon gifted to Malala on our behalf for her 16th birthday. This hardcover edition contains hundreds of images submitted to #GIRLWITHABOOK in our early days as well as images from Ban Ki-moon, Jane Goodall, Midori, and Paulo Coelho.
Original Images from the Expedition beautiful, mounted images from principal photographer and filmmaker Jennifer Ciochon. You can view some of her previous work here.
Calendar with Original Images from the Expedition beautiful images from principal photographer and filmmaker Jennifer Ciochon compiled into a 12 month wall calendar. Enjoy the beauty and complexity of Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, and Pakistan month after month.
Photobook of Original Images from the Expedition beautiful images from principal photographer and filmmaker Jennifer Ciochon compiled into a quality photobook. Enjoy the beauty and complexity of Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, and Pakistan in a book you can proudly display, demonstrating your contribution to this important project.
This is a big topic, a big undertaking, a big project, and we want to do it right. $40,000 allows us to journey through these four countries, digging into the stories of girls who are pursuing an education and then deliver those stories to you, our audience, in real time.
Filming in these countries is expensive, especially when we will be doing everything feasible to stay as safe as possible. Fixers, translators, and security considerations play a major role in determining our budget and comprise a significant portion of our expenses. Have more specific questions? Feel free to ask in the comments or email us at email@example.com
Lena Shareef (co-founder & content curator) holds an MS in Journalism from Columbia University and a BA in Film and Communications, with a minor in International Studies, from American University. Lena works in the digital media department at a communications agency in New York and is passionate about telling stories in innovative ways, be it in the form of a video, a novel, or a tweet.
Olivia Curl (co-founder & producer) is a graduate of American University’s School of International Service and currently works in women's healthcare. She holds a BA in International Studies and a minor in Arabic. Olivia gets really fired up about girls’ education, child marriage, and maternal mortality, or as she likes to say “the ultimate trifecta of gender equality and development.”
Jennifer Ciochon (principal photographer & filmmaker) is a photojournalist currently based in Tunisia. She holds an MA in International Journalism from City University in London, as well as an MA in Islamic Societies and Cultures from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She received her BA in International Studies from American University and has lived in Switzerland, US, Egypt, India and the UK before moving to Tunisia. You can see some of her photography at www.jciochon.com
The #GIRLWITHABOOK Movement is a not-for-profit organization promoting girls’ education around the world through innovative and interactive social media. Co-founders Lena Shareef and Olivia Curl believe that education is one of the most powerful tools to change the world. We’ve seen the immense power an educated girl can have. Sadly, far too many girls grow up without ever setting foot in a classroom. Visit our website to learn more.
Risks and challenges
We know what you’re thinking “a couple of women are going to wander around Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, and Pakistan?” And that’s a valid consideration. Here’s the thing: we are highly experienced travelers and journalists, with language skills and Hostile Environment Training. We are fully aware of the risks involved in undertaking this project, and safety is our first priority.
That being said, both Olivia and Jennifer have traveled through India, with Jennifer spending a year dividing her time between an education NGO and working as a journalist for Al Jazeera in Delhi. Lena has spent considerable time in Pakistan working with several education NGOs.
Of course, unexpected events will always come up, that’s part of what makes documentary work real and worthwhile. We’ll be doing constant security assessments, ensuring that we’re getting the real story of girls in all educational situations, while taking security into consideration with every decision we make.
Covering so much ground in just a few months will certainly be challenging, but with our research front loaded before we depart, our language skills, our broad networks throughout these countries and journalism experience, we’re ready to take it on.
We want to do this right. We want to share the experiences of girls going to school, regardless of where those girls are living. It would be wrong to travel so far only to ignore the most challenging environments. We want to highlight the incredible work being done by individuals and organizations who are working within their communities to create change, and who so rarely have a megaphone available to share their work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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