Written and directed by Academy Award-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the film centers around a young Pakistani girl named Pari who is forced into child marriage, crushing her dreams of one day becoming a pilot.
To accompany the short film, Chime for Change launched the #LetGirlsDream campaign in support of efforts to bring an end to child marriage by organizations like Girls Not Brides and Equality Now.
Sitara: Let Girls Dream tells the story of more than 12 million girls around the world in developing and developed countries, who are forced into child marriage every year. Globally, 1 in 5 girls are married before they reach the age of 18, and in some countries this number more than doubles. Between 2000 and 2010, more than 250,000 child brides were registered in the US, and at least 20 states allow children under 18 to marry without the consent of a parent or guardian, according to Yasmeen Hassan, the global executive director of Equality Now.
Child marriage poses a serious threat to the health and safety of millions of young girls by limiting their prospects and forcing them into motherhood at an early age, which can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Child brides are also more likely to drop out of school, experience domestic violence, and have low economic prospects.
The overall goal of the film is to not only bring awareness to the widespread issue of child marriage, but also to inspire young girls to dream and to not give up on their futures.
“It all starts with a dream,” Obaid-Chinoy said during a panel. “I come from Pakistan. If you had told a girl growing up in Pakistan, where there was no film industry to speak of, that she would one day be the recipient of two Academy Awards, I would have said, that is not possible.”
“But someone allowed me to dream, and gave me the ability to dream, and gave me the wings to dream,” she continued. “And that is the conversation that I want to happen in homes.”
Sitara: Let Girls Dream, which is available on Netflix, is now being shown to young girls in schools across the world in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of child marriage in both the US and abroad.
“This is as much about child brides as it is about robbing young girls of important dreams,” said Obaid-Chinoy.