My Tear Ducts Have Ebola….

..because I just watched the 2013 documentary ‘Girl Rising’ and oh how the tears came rushing down.

Let’s talk women’s education, shall we? For starters, I am a woman. Hey. Hi! I’m eighteen years old, I am white (I should hope that this isn’t really relevant, but I’m just putting it into perspective) I live in a middle class home in the world’s most ‘Liveable City’ and I have finished my high school education. I started university this year, but I am currently on a break in order to figure out my confusing teenage headspace.

Now that you have the lowdown on my education thus far, let’s talk about what I actually learned in all of these eighteen years on Earth.  My primary school education was more of a day care facility, which enabled my parents the opportunity to work without having to worry about my brother and I begin shot or accidentally put in the dishwasher. I don’t know that I learned very much in primary school, apart from social, creative and physical skills; which are all very important, don’t get me wrong. However, my real education began when I received a scholarship to the top private school in Melbourne (much to my mother’s amazement and surprise), and I had suddenly become a foreigner in a whole new country (metaphorically, I didn’t actually leave the country). There were students who resided in six figure sum Toorak mansions, Jewish kids, a kid who lived at the zoo, Sudanese girls, people from Scotland, France, the US, and then there was me, this skinny little wispy kid from the suburbs. I hadn’t been exposed to this kind of diversity at my local primary school. Although I was interested in multiculturalism and I studied Japanese, they were merely concepts, things I had only heard of and never really experienced. Interacting with kids from all over Melbourne, who had travelled all over the world, was my first step into the doorway of my education and my newfound global perspective, that is continuing to grow to this day.

By the end, my high schooling education was merely a competition. Not just in an academic sense, but also in the field of “social status” and also class. I felt deeply insecure about the way I looked, what I wore to parties, who I sat with at lunch and even what people were saying about me. I know that this is just a side effect of being a hormonal, pubescent woman, but this anxiety I felt deeply affected my education.The things that were once the things that set me apart form the rich, cultured kids, were now my insecurities. I hated being at such a privileged school, and I think I will carry the pressures of my education with me for the rest of my life. A lot of the kids in my graduating year won’t go on to university, but won’t feel any form of struggle as a result. I hope that I am one of the few people affected by this type of societal pressure, but then again, my mum has always told me, from my early years of high school, that if I want to succeed, I have to do it on my own accord. I don’t have a family business or trust fund to fall back on. I must channel my inner Drake and start from the bottom to get to wherever ‘here’ is. However, on the other hand, I don’t give a fuck about money or success, I care about helping people and being happy. Wait, why am I still talking about MYSELF??? This is about WOMEN all over the WORLD. Shut Up, Johanna.

I refer to my own experiences as an exposition for my response to the film I just watched, ‘Girl Rising’. The startling statistics voiced so powerfully by Liam Neeson were enough to make me feel affected by this film. Not to mention the amazing stories written of nine different girls from around the world, all fighting for their education in different ways, yet with the same ambitions in mind. These young women are fighting for their voice to be heard in schools, and for the ability to be able to read and write, so as to not follow in their parents’ footsteps and fall back into the poverty cycle.

Meanwhile, I spent my bewildered days in high school day dreaming, skipping class to sleep at the nurse’s office, going to the art rooms to listen to music instead of going to math class, countless “mental health days” where I just cried in bed and watched re-runs of sex and the city. All for what? So that I could be dissatisfied with my result at the end of it all, not get into the university course I had hoped for and then spend the rest of my days grieving in my utter disappointment???? Okay, that was a little dramatic, but not entirely untrue. I did become semi-fluent in Japanese and learn how to incorporate the topic of ‘Globalisation’ into almost every single casual conversation I had. So, kudos, education, you won.

The urgency that these young women conveyed, their will power and their spirit, each uplifting in its own way, makes me detest the schooling system in developed nations. We are lashing each other, ruining friendships while a young girl in Haiti fought her teacher to let her stay in the classroom, despite not having the funds for the class.

Education is so important for women, we know that it is a catalyst for change. I was truly touched by the stories of these young girls, and I won’t mention any of the statistics, because if you haven’t seen it yet, I want it to be as shocking as possible, to really evoke the power of the message embedded in the gorgeously written stories of these young girl’s lives.

However, here is a stat for good measure, ‘the biggest killer of women aged 15-19 is not AIDS, it is child birth’. Women should not be allowed to conceive a child at age 15, yet there are girls dying from this all over the world!?!??!?!?! Oh the humanity.

I urge you to all watch this film, or to look up the Girl Rising campaign.

I am now thinking of ways to become apart of this amazing global campaign and I want to be able to express how important women’s education is to young girls in Australia, just help them to appreciate their freedoms and how their lives will be benefitted if the take full advantage of their education.

CNN Films: Girl RisingAmina portrait. Film still

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