Girl Connected

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Girl Connected Movie Poster Image
Docu highlights teens advocating for rights of girls.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 53 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Girls and women can do whatever they want. It's important to have dreams and set high goals. Girls who have already set such goals for themselves successfully also realize that to make their countries stronger they must help other girls -- by teaching and mentoring -- to set goals, too. In many countries there are few role models of women with high self-esteem to inspire young girls.  

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Girls from India, Jordan, Kenya, Peru, and Bangladesh refuse to accept stereotypes and expectations about what girls and women should and should not do. As they seek education and betterment for themselves they also commit to teaching others that that they, too, can surpass expectations and limits.

Violence

It's suggested that girls as young as 12 are forced to marry in countries where families are too poor to take care of their children. In India, Ayesha teaches karate to girls so they can defend themselves against attack.

 

Sex

The use of condoms is urged, as well as other methods of taking responsibility for not getting pregnant, in a campaign to end teen pregnancy in Peru. In Bangladesh, girls travel to villages to help raise awareness among girls themselves that they don't have to marry early, even if parents press for it.

Language
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Girl Connected is a short documentary that looks at five exemplary teenage girls from emerging world countries who have become inspired by their own challenges to help other girls throw off misogynistic social pressures and stereotypes. One advocates against child marriages, and another against teen pregnancy, and another wants girls to learn self-defense and improve self-esteem. The movie shows people living in impoverished villages without indoor plumbing. The girls describe poverty, privation, and hunger. Condoms and responsibility for protected sex are discussed. 

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What's the story?

GIRL CONNECTED documents work by five teenage girls who have faced misogyny in their countries -- Peru, Bangladesh, Kenya, India, and Jordan. They not only are taking action to ensure that they themselves rise above stereotypes and social pressures, but they also have become activists advocating for other girls to overcome centuries of anti-female prejudices. Latifa travels from one poor village to the next, explaining to 12-year-old girls and their parents how much better their lives can be in the long run if the girls get educations rather than marrying. It can be a hard sell for parents too poor to feed their children. Ayesha teaches girls karate so they can defend themselves against attack in India. Michelle in Kenya is determined to become an engineer, fighting demeaning attitudes of boys in her class. She mentors younger girls, enthusiastically teaching them self-motivation and how to set goals.   

 

Is it any good?

The great intentions of Girl Connected director Koen Suidgeest are unimpeachable and the movie's important message far outweighs its narrative flaws. A more elegantly edited movie might make actual connections, as per the title, among the five girls showcased. But the importance of the work being done by the five intrepid and socially-conscious girls shown here can't be overemphasized. The movie is a great tool for inspiring others to do the same, and may be something parents will want to watch with their kids and that teachers will want to share with their students.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how difficult it would be to try to overturn stereotypes in places where girls don't get the chance to be educated or independent.

  • How might having a baby as a teenager have a negative impact on a girl's ability to get an education, find a good job, and earn a decent living?

  • In some countries 12-year-old girls are forced to marry. Girl Connected suggests that if those girls and their parents learned to refuse this custom until the girls reach age 18, they would have a better chance of rising up out of poverty and improving the entire country's economic situation. Why do you think the emphasis is placed on girls themselves learning to refuse early marriages, rather than just educating their parents?   

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