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Podcast #54: What does it take to educate a girl?

'Beyond School Books' - a podcast series on education in emergencies

© UNICEF Uganda/2012/Rendina,Rudavsky
'To Educate a Girl' follows the lives of girls in Nepal and Uganda, including 6-year-old Mercy who is attending school for the first time.

By Pi James

NEW YORK, USA, 5 March 2012 - Significant progress has been made towards providing education for all, yet according to UNESCO an estimated 67 million children still remain out of school – and over half of them are girls.

Ten years after the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) was launched in 2000 to safeguard the right to education and gender equality for all children, filmmakers Frederick Rendina and Oren Rudavsky travelled to Nepal and Uganda to document the lives of girls seeking an education amid poverty and in the aftermath of conflict.

The resulting film, ‘To Educate a Girl’, supported by UNGEI, paints an inspiring picture of young girls determined to build their lives and follow their dreams despite the most challenging environments.

In the lead-up to a special screening of the film at Columbia University on International Women’s Day, 8 March, UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with the filmmakers about the making of the documentary and their travels to discover what it takes to educate a girl.

© UNICEF USA/2012/Vojvoda
Filmmakers Frederick Rendina (left) and Oren Rudavsky (centre) speak with UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke about their film 'To Educate a Girl'.

Breaking through stereotypes

Mr. Rudavsky said they wanted to make a film that broke through stereotypes, focusing simply on people who have stories to tell.

“We wanted to make a film that anybody who saw it could relate to,” he said.

“What I was impressed by and moved by were the individual girls that I met who are so exquisitely bright and beautiful and eager to learn… [it’s] where they are that’s the obstacle,” he said.

Change happens incrementally

Mr. Rendina said the film highlights the importance of long-term change, starting at the community level through grassroots organizations.

“There are many different levels of change that have to occur. Probably the most important one is in the mindset of men,” he said.

“You change little by little, but I think what the biggest lesson I got out of making the film was that these huge goals, like the Millennium Development Goals, are achievable. They actually can be done.”

Mr. Rudavsky agreed, adding, “It’s important to keep in mind that we’re beginning on this journey. The important message has been inculcated in women’s and in men’s minds, but it’s going to take more of an effort. It’s an ongoing effort.”

The special screening of ‘To Educate a Girl’ will be held at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York on Thursday, 8 March, at 6 p.m. The documentary can also be watched online at viewchange.org. For more information, please visit www.ungei.org and www.toeducateagirl.com.




27 February 2012: UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with filmmakers Frederick Rendina and Oren Rudavsky about their documentary and travels to Nepal and Uganda to discover: what does it take to educate a girl?
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