Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

On Film: Two Girls Launch Change In Guatemala

September 15, 2013

Originally published on Catapult News.

An engaging and transformative story is being told in Concepción Chiquirichapa, a small town in Guatemala and the setting of Emmy award-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell’s latest film, ¡PODER! This is different from Russell’s standard hard-hitting documentary films focused on powerful, albeit, difficult stories. This is a film about how “girls, even those facing tremendous obstacles, can become powerful agents for change,” says Denise Dunning, Executive Director of Adolescent Girls’ Advocacy & Leadership Initiative (AGALI). ¡PODER! strays far from the portrayal of oppressed girls, and instead highlights the captivating story of Elba and Emelin, two girls who advocate for health and education in a community with an unmet need for both.

 PODER! Never underestimate the power of a girl

The story in ¡PODER! is universal –  the everyday impediments to education and healthcare, the indifference directed towards girls and women, and the lack of substantial rights, are faced throughout the globe. Statistics provide additional proof: fewer than 10 percent of Mayan girls finish school, more than half become mothers before age 18, and local laws and policies fail to protect adolescent girls. The issues highlighted in the film are not isolated to Guatemala; they are much more far-reaching.

But, this isn’t about their hardships. It’s the true story of how two disenfranchised, indigenous young girls launched their change for girls and women. And what results! Elba and Emelin convinced the mayor of Concepción Chiquirichapa to invest in girls’ development and ensure that girls have access to education and health services. The mayor eventually co-wrote and funded legislation to create more community programs. “This is important because it reflects everything that is happening in the community,” says Emelin. The film shows the impact resonating throughout the community.

¡PODER! will be an empowering, positive, and enchanting film that gives the young girls in this small town a sense of achievement and power, but this compelling story cannot be shared with the world without your help. Your generous donation will allow AGALI and Let Girls Lead, a global campaign that amplifies the power of girls to create their own solutions, transform the raw footage into a powerful and thought-provoking short film highlighting the power of empowered young women. Any contribution will help finish this important film, by funding the editing of subtitles, music, and animation.

On International Women’s Day 2014, let the world hear the story of Elba, Emelin and the girls of Guatemala. Support ¡PODER! on Catapult now.

 
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