In Afghanistan today, there is no social issue more controversial than women’s rights. And nothing cuts to the heart of the matter more than the education of young girls because nothing so radically threatens to change a deeply patriarchal society than rising generations of educated women.
As recounted in What Tomorrow Brings, in 2009, when Razia Jan, a visionary and fearless educator, arrived in the war-blasted village of Deh’Subz to open the Zabuli Education Center, she placed herself at the center of her country’s turmoil. She faced families and village elders hostile to female education, threats (and nearby examples) of Taliban violence against schools for girls and the haunting question of what would happen when U.S. forces withdrew. To sustain herself, she had her own resourcefulness, the passion of her teachers and, perhaps most surprisingly in a conservative rural setting, the free-spirited determination of the girls themselves to get an education.
The film is a powerful example of what happens when learning extends far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. Here, girls have the space to dream of—and pursue—a life different from the one they were born into. One of the most striking features is the daily joy, curiosity and intellectual engagement of the girls in school—and the defiant or impish ruses they sometimes use to get there.“Nobody has the right to prevent girls from getting an education,” Razia tells her students. “If you were home you’d be washing clothes and sweeping. Your family would think of you like this flower. Theirs to protect or destroy. But this flower says, ‘Here I stand. Strong. Even if you try to destroy me I will bloom again and I will be beautiful.’”
Director: Beth Murphy | USA | 2015 | 90 minutes
Facing History and Ourselves is proud to partner with the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in presenting the Upstander Film Series in January 2017. Every Wednesday night, the museum will show a film that celebrates stories of individuals that have embraced the challenge to speak out, stand up for others, and make decisions that help create positive change in our world. Following each screening, Facing History and Ourselves will facilitate a discussion with the audience and the creative minds behind the films.