5 Questions With… Christina Lowery of GIRL RISING

Enjoy this exclusive interview between Westport Country Playhouse artistic director Mark Shanahan and Christina Lowery, CEO of Girl Rising.

MARK: What can our audience expect from the Girl Rising event at the Playhouse?

CHRISTINA: “This Story May Save Us” features film screenings alongside conversation with Indigenous young women climate activists from Latin America and producers of Girl Rising’s award winning film. The evening of stories and solutions will illuminate the power and potential of girls’ leadership to create a fairer and more sustainable world. Speakers include Co-founder and CEO Christina Lowery, Future Rising Fellows Lety Tituana from Ecuador and Dayana Blanco Qurioga from Bolivia and additional special guests.


MARK: Can you tell us about the mission of Girl Rising and how it came to be?

CHRISTINA: Girl Rising’s mission is to use the power of storytelling to change the way the world values girls and their education. The organization originated from the work of a team of filmmakers and journalists who created the documentary “Girl Rising” which helped ignite a global movement for girls’ education. Based on the success of the film and the first community education programs we launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Nigeria, Girl Rising transitioned to a nonprofit organization in 2016 to set up for long term impact. Girl Rising has since worked in 12 countries, collaborating with more than 130 local community organizations to deliver programming that helps adolescents build voice, agency and confidence, and creates allies for girls’ rights among parents, caregivers, educators and community leaders.


MARK: You talk about the power of storytelling in your organization’s work. How have you worked with young women around the world to be storytellers?

CHRISTINA: Girl Rising’s programs equip young people with the knowledge, skills and resources to share their voice and tell their stories. The ability to share one’s story is a powerful way to foster self-confidence, deepen a sense of identity and community, and build agency. Additionally, storytelling promotes understanding, connection and positive action by raising awareness of important issues. Our education programs include sessions to help young people explore their experiences and opinions as the vital source material for their stories. We create safe spaces for young people to create, experiment and share, while building specific skills such as digital storytelling, videography and analysis of story components. Our Future Rising Fellowship focuses on building storytelling and media production skills among a select group of young women and men who work at the intersection of climate, education and gender equity. We help them produce and distribute the stories they create during their Fellowship to help raise awareness of the links between gender equity and climate justice. We have also hosted a series of Storytelling Camps, most recently in Amboseli, Kenya, where our team led a storytelling camp for a group of 40 Maasai teenagers. This camp focused on building their storytelling skills to empower them to advocate for themselves and their communities.


MARK: What does it mean to be a Girl Rising Future Rising Fellow?

CHRISTINA: Being a Girl Rising Future Rising Fellow means being part of a global network of young activists that uses storytelling to fuel climate action and gender equity solutions in their communities and in halls of power all over the world.

From leading grassroots conservation efforts and implementing local climate adaptation solutions to speaking truth to power at Global convenings like UNGA, COP 28 and World Economic Forum, the Future Rising Fellows are a growing force committed to the pursuit of climate justice especially as it relates to girls and women all over the world. Girl Rising supports these fellows with financial resources, leadership development and, critically, storytelling training. Over the course of the fellowship, each Fellow produces, with the support of Girl Rising, a storytelling project about their work on climate justice where they live.


MARK: Can you speak to some of the many ways Girl Rising is confronting the barriers in place which block the ability to provide education to girls around the world?

CHRISTINA: Girl Rising’s programs address various barriers to girls’ education and opportunities, particularly addressing the need to build 21st century skills – a significant gap in many schools in regions where they work. The Girl Rising curriculum emphasizes social-emotional skills, financial literacy, persuasive communications, goal-setting, and other related topics that are essential for adolescents to recognize their rights, advocate for themselves and transition successfully into adulthood. Research shows that these 21st century skills are essential for girls to persist in school and address the social norms that too often hold them back. Girl Rising also works to address social norms and attitudes among key influencers in girls’ lives – their parents and caregivers, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders. Through our programs, Girl Rising engages with these groups to help build understanding of the value of girls’ education and build recognition of the gender biases they may hold. Girl Rising’s program model is built around deep collaborations with partner organizations that are based in the regions where we work. They know their communities best and understand the specific needs and opportunities. Girl Rising provides financial resources to support their innovations and help build networks around them to scale their solutions to girls’ education and gender equity. The Future Rising program supports a global community of young leaders driving solutions to climate change – providing leadership development, storytelling training, financial support, network building and opportunities to share their voice with the world.

CLICK HERE or on the the graphics above to read Christina’s full bio.

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