Parents' Guide to

Girl Rising

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Powerful docu explains why all girls need an education.

Movie PG-13 2013 101 minutes
Girl Rising Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 9+

9 stories, some good for age 5+ and others best for age 10-12+

Some stories in the film are appropriate for an elementary audience and some better for ages 10-12+. The movie is all about girls' education, although the trailer makes it seem different. Tough topics are touched on but nothing graphic is shown or discussed in detail. The best stories for an all-ages audience are 1) Wadley in Haiti, 2) Ruksana in India and 3) Mariama in Sierra Leone. The toughest story is the last, Amina in Afghanistan. I will put age guides for each story at the end of this review. This is not a traditional documentary even though the girls and stories are real. The film is highly artistic, symbolic and sometimes a little abstract. In addition, there is narration with statistics between each story. CHAPTERS AND AGE GUIDELINES Sokha in Cambodia - ages 5+. Younger viewers may not understand this story well due to its abstract nature but may love the dancing. Shows images of Sokha picking trash in a bleak landfill, which may lead to questions from younger viewers. Wadley in Haiti - ages 5+. Very inspiring. A bit slow and abstract in the first and last minute of the story. Suma in Nepal - ages 10+. Also very inspiring and musical. Shows images of her as a child slave doing constant and sometimes difficult work, which may lead to questions. Yasmin in Egypt - ages 10+. Blend of live action and an ambiguous animated story of Yasmin turning into a superhero to fight a man who lured her into his house. Younger viewers will probably think she was a superhero who got away. Older viewers will probably not. Azmera in Ethiopia - ages 8-10+. Her mother is willing for her to marry a stranger, but her brother intervenes. Viewers will probably get the family strength message more than the young marriage story. Ruksana in India - ages 5+. Police come and knock down the tents where Ruksana and others live; no violence is shown but young viewers may ask why the police are being so mean. Senna in Peru - ages 8-10+. There are a couple sentences and closeups where Senna talks about women who work as prostitutes and the dead look in their eyes. This story is shot in black and white and begins with poetry, which may be harder for some viewers to get into. Mariama in Sierra Leone - ages 8+. Mariama looks and acts like a teen, but the fun, modern feel of the story will appeal to young audiences. Due to the death of her first husband, Mariama's mother is one of two wives in the family, which is described briefly and clearly and may lead to questions. Amina in Afghanistan - age 12+. Actress playing Yasmin looks about 11 years old and does not appear to age, even though the story probably follows a year or two of her life. This is disturbing (as it is probably meant to be) when she is married to a man in his 20's, gives birth and holds her infant son all while staring dead-eyed at the camera. The birth scene is a few seconds and shows only her face straining and her yelling before a wrapped baby is put in her arms. The narration for this story is powerful. Viewers will probably have questions about child marriage and the practice of wearing a burqa; they will probably also feel very inspired.
age 10+

appropriate for tweens and teens

This is an inspiring movie that highlights the importance of education for girls in the developing world. Many of the things in the girls lives are hard - child marriage, indentured servitude, rape, and poverty. However, they are handled in such a tactful way that if your child does not already know what rape or a brothel is, they will not learn it from this movie. What they will learn is that these girls face forces of sexism and inequality, and struggle mightily for better lives through school. I took a 10 year old and felt it was entirely appropriate; she said it was "awesome" and it made her think about what life is like in other parts of the world, particulary as the girls are so relatable. It also made her appreciate her own freedoms and education.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (4 ):

It can be difficult to watch some of the film's powerful vignettes, but it's important to push past the sadness, the discomfort, and even the horror of how these girls are exploited and oppressed. Even though upsetting issues are explored, Girl Rising is the kind of stirring documentary that parents should watch with their mature tweens or teens and then discuss the ideas it raises -- girl empowerment, education, and equality.

All of the stories are touching and deserving of attention. Senna's tale is particularly compelling and hopeful. Named after Xena: Warrior Princess, Senna is from the remote town of La Rinconada, Peru, in the Andes and goes to school at the command of her father, who eventually dies after a gold-mining accident. She discovers the words of Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo that inspire her to honor her father's memory, to claim her right to learn, and to have as bright a future as she can imagine. If only every girl, regardless of where she was born, could be assured the same.

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