The International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated on the 11th October every year, is a globally-recognized celebration of the world’s 1.1 billion girls who are a powerful source of strength and creativity.

A pioneering trio of films, produced by the UK aid-funded Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) programme, and Medical Aid Films, will be launched in Juba, South Sudan to mark the internationally-recognized day. The films touch upon themes of displacement, early marriage and early pregnancy, and financial poverty.

See films on YouTube, here.

GESS Team Leader, Akuja Mading de Garang, proudly announced that one of the films, called ‘Poni’s Journey’, will be screened at the flagship event, ‘Girls Speak Out’, at the United Nations in New York. The event will showcase powerful, everyday stories from girls around the world. The whole event can be streamed through the Girls Speak Out webcast on on Wednesday, October 11th 3pm – 5pm EST.

Poni’s Journey touches upon the theme of displacement and directly links into the objective of this year’s event – to bring global attention to the challenges and opportunities girls face before, during, and after crises.

Still from the film, 'Poni's Journey', screened at the Girl Speak Out event in New York at the International Day of the Girl Child Summit

Still from the film, ‘Poni’s Journey’, screened at the Girl Speak Out event in New York at the International Day of the Girl Child Summit

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has had a profound impact upon education. The issue of access is compounded for girls, who are subject to deeply entrenched, negative socio-cultural attitudes towards girls’ education. Indeed, very few girls who begin primary education continue to secondary school; in 2016, 128,000 girls started primary school, but only 2,700 completed secondary school

The GESS Leader pointed out that the girls’ “personal experiences and challenges in accessing education served as the inspiration for each story. Film is a powerful medium to raise awareness and this is an incredible opportunity to highlight the issues that South Sudanese girls are facing”.

The animations were created throughout a weeklong workshop in Juba in May. Following the workshop, the drawings were turned into moving images, animating the characters and scenes, and adding sound effects to bring the pictures to life. These were edited alongside the interviews with the participants, who came from Juba, Rumbek, Yambio and the Juba PoC. It is the first time that such an approach has been used in South Sudan.

Participatory workshop South Sudan animation

Workshop participant, Monica, draws out a scene for the film, ‘Keji Counts’

Akuja Mading de Garang said: “We also want to get these films out to a national audience. They are expressions of solidarity that we hope will inspire the girls of South Sudan to stand strong in the face of adversity.”

You can watch the videos on the Girls’ Education South Sudan YouTube page.

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