Six years ago, documentary filmmaker Martha Adams and her team traveled around the globe in search of an answer to the challenge of poverty — making stops at Davos, the United Nations, and the State Department. Their goal was to gain insight from high-profile leaders and visionary thinkers.

To their surprise, Martha and her team were repeatedly encouraged to explore the emerging data regarding girls’ education. Although the data was new, it confirmed what many veteran non-profit workers had suspected for decades: when you invest in girls’ education, remarkable things happen:

  • If India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, its GDP would rise by $5.5 billion (CIA World Factbook, Global Campaign for Education, and RESULTS Education Fund).
  • A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult (The World Bank, August 2011).
  • Educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school. (UNICEF, 2010).
  • Almost 60% fewer girls would become pregnant under the age of 17 in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia if they all had a secondary education. (EFA Global Monitoring Report Education Transforms).
  • If all girls had a secondary education, there would be two-thirds fewer child marriages (EFA Global Monitoring Report Education Transforms).

Currently there are 62 million girls missing from classrooms in developing countries. But, as Martha told the INmarket15 audience, she knew that highlighting these data trends and statistics would not solve this problem. Every good marketer knows that a compelling story is the best way to spur people to action. “Information in the absence of an inspiring story does not trigger action,” she said.

She and her team decided to make a film, Girl Rising, that featured highly personal and inspiring stories that illustrate the struggles faced by impoverished girls and women who are currently:

  • Given limited access to education or denied education completely
  • Forced into arranged marriages at a young age
  • Confined to the home
  • Restricted to a lifetime of servitude and hard labor

To raise money to make the film, Martha reached out to five executives who were retiring from Intel. All were women, and all were concerned about the lack of female representation at the company and in tech jobs in general. Although Intel was actively recruiting women on college campuses, they found little success. These five executives told Martha to consider all 87 thousand employees of Intel as executive producers of the film.

“I flew to Bangalore and we involved every employee in the process of making this film,” Martha said. When the film was released, Intel discovered it no longer had a problem with recruitment. “They showed up on college campuses with Girl Rising and all they had to say was, ‘Yeah, we made that film,’” she said. “They got applications from the best female graduates in the country.”

We’re advocates of leveraging data to make important decisions and guide our actions. Educating girls is a personal passion of our CEO and founder, Amanda Kahlow, who believes in the power of intention and of personal stories to effect positive change. She was proud to share the stage with Martha today and announce that registrations for INmarket15 helped raise more than $75,000 to support Girl Rising. As Martha said, educating girls is one of the most important solutions of our time. “This is the civil rights movement of our era.”