Guneet Monga partners with She Leads Impact Fund for documentary against child marriages

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Mumbai, May 27 (IANS) Oscar winner Guneet Monga and producer Ashvini Yardi have collaborated with the She Leads Impact Fund on the documentary 'Kicking Balls', to address the history of child marriages in India.

The documentary explores three villages in Rajasthan where an NGO is tackling child marriage through football.

Monga said: "Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. That's 23 girls every minute. 'Kicking Balls' became a project that we knew could not just be a film; it had to be a conversation. After screening it in several schools across India, I was always asked what more I could do to help these young girls."

"We're storytellers, meant to reflect what we see at the grassroots -- our effort is to tell stories that ignite conversations and spark change in the policies of the country."

Monga said she wishes to go a step further and collaborate to engage 1 million women in areas where child marriage and gender inequality are highly prevalent in India.

A special screening of 'Kicking Balls' was recently hosted in the capital region, attracting impact investors and drawing attention to the urgent need for strengthened national and state-level policies to eliminate child marriage by 2030.

This partnership between the She Leads Impact Fund, Vineyard Films, and Sikhya Entertainment is dedicated to ending child marriage and supporting married girls in rural households.

To support this mission, the She Leads Impact Fund is providing $25,000 in funding to bring transformative change to the lives of women married as children.

Commenting on this, director Vijayeta Kumar said: " 'Kicking Balls' is the story of brave young girls from rural Rajasthan, tackling their way out of forced child marriages, poverty, and caste oppression by playing football and fighting for their right to study."

Kumar said that the film began as an exploration of everyday feminism and unbelievable courage.

Producer Ashvini Yardi, who made the iconic TV show 'Balika Vadhu' based on the same topic, starring Avika Gor, added: "In 2008, I brought India’s first comprehensive show on 'Child Marriage', titled 'Balika Vadhu', which revolutionised Indian television and sparked dialogue around the reforms needed to suppress this age-old practice."

"During my 31 years in the TV and film industry, I've realised the impact we leave and the stories we tell shape society. Working with Guneet on a topic so close to my heart in this documentary allowed us to validate that films can become more and stand for more."

Ajaita Shah, founding partner of the She Leads Impact Fund, commented, "Having spent over a decade working to uplift rural women through Frontier Markets, I have witnessed firsthand the pressing issues these women face, with child marriage being one of the most pervasive and heartbreaking.

“ 'Kicking Balls' is a powerful catalyst for this change, shining a light on the resilience and strength of young girls forced into early marriages.”