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Podcast: Day of the Girl 2014 - Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence

©Dale Wilcox/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images
Reese Witherspoon and Kuoth Wiel of “The Good Lie” Premiere at 2014 TIFF on Sunday, Sep. 7, 2014, in Toronto.

This podcast is part of the Changing the World for Girls discussions, a collaboration of the Beyond School Books podcast series and United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). In this series, you will find discussions on the lasting impact education has on girls, communities and nations around the world.

NEW YORK, United States of America, 10 October 2014 – The theme this year for International Day of the Girl Child is ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence’.

To mark the day, this edition of Changing the World for Girls focuses on violence and girls, especially school-related gender-based violence.

Podcast moderator Alex Goldmark speaks with two guests: Kuoth Wiel, a young actress who appears in the new Hollywood release, The Good Lie; and Professor Fiona Leach, an expert on international education.

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We caught up with Ms. Wiel on the set of the film, which is now in theatres.

The Good Lie is about the ‘lost boys’ of Sudan. The name was given to the thousands of boys who were orphaned and displaced during the Sudanese Civil War, some of whom eventually resettled in the United States.

Ms. Wiel plays a ‘lost girl’.

“I think the importance of having me in the film, as a female voice, is to show that the situation that had happened in our country did not just only happen to boys,” Ms. Wiel said.

Ms. Wiel was born in Ethiopia but spent a lot of time in Sudan. She lost her father during the war and her brother was a ‘lost boy’.

The film, she said, can raise awareness about the violence children experienced during the war.

“I think it will be an educational tool,” she said.

The podcast continues with a conversation about violence in school-related contexts.

Professor Fiona Leach, an expert on international education, outlines three broad categories of violence in school-related settings: physical, psychological and sexual.

The categories cover violence from bullying to sexual assault and rape. For researchers and development workers, school-based violence is difficult to understand because it is often underreported, particularly sexual violence, Professor Leach said.

“It is very difficult to get a picture across the board,” Professor Leach said. “What we can say is that in many of these cases, violence in schools is considered as normal. It is accepted. That is one reason it is not reported.”

Professor Leach discusses recent studies that have linked violence to low academic achievement. She also talks about some of the solutions including girls clubs and child-friendly schools.

“Many schools have a very authoritarian culture,” Professor Leach said. “They need to move towards a more child-friendly environment, which enables children to talk about things they are uneasy about including violence.”

International Day of the Girl Child is 11 October. For more information on this year’s observance, please visit



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