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Optimism, Risk and Resolve for Girls' Education in Afghanistan

SWAN Documentary Film Forum

The 2nd Annual SAIS Women’s Alumni Network Documentary Film Forum offered a rare glimpse into the complex social fabric of Afghanistan. Filmmaker Beth Murphy transported us for a timeless moment to a rural Afghan village. Through the lens of the documentary What Tomorrow Brings, we experienced the struggles and triumphs of the first students to enroll in an all-girls school along the zigzag path of progress to their graduation six years later.

Special guest Sarah Sewall prefaced the film by explaining the cultural nuances and influences of power in the country, difficult for an outsider to comprehend. She emphasized the extraordinary risk that both the girls and the school’s visionary founder take on as a testament that heroic individuals can effect real change.

The evening took us beyond the news headlines to reveal remarkable human stories. While we are linked more closely to these young women, their lack of access to education and technology deepens the divide between us. As a global and connected community, I hope that we can be as courageous in our support of these future leaders to help connect them to a world of opportunity.

A special thanks to Beth Murphy, Sarah Sewall, Kate Maloney, Jim Miller, SAIS Women Lead, and the New York Film Academy for an inspiring and thought-provoking evening.

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