Life in disguise

Angelina Jolie Pitt will produce “The Breadwinner,” the story of an Afghan girl who posed as a boy to feed her family

Profits from the film will be donated to support the education of girls in Afghanistan

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SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie Pitt will serve as executive producer on the animated feature film The Breadwinner, Cartoon Saloon announced this week. She and her production company, Jolie Pas Productions, will join director Nora Twomney in developing the film, which is based on the young adult novel series of the same name written by Deborah Ellis that has sold 2.5 million copies around the world.

The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, an Afghan girl living under Taliban rule who disguises herself as a boy after her father is imprisoned, becoming breadwinner for her family. Malala Yousafzai called Parvana “an inspiration” in an interview with the The New York Times, calling the story of The Breadwinner a reminder of “how courageous and strong women are around the world.”

“Millions of young girls like Parvana are growing up today under oppression or conflict, and helping their families to survive in those condition. This story is a reminder of the immense value of their contribution,” Jolie Pitt said in a press release. Profits raised by her role as executive producer of the film, which is slated for a 2017 release, will be donated to support the education of girls in Afghanistan. The Breadwinner will be released in both English and Dari.

If Parvana’s story sounds familiar, it is because she is just one of the many girls and women throughout history who have posed as male in order to make ends meet.

Sixty-five-year-old Sisa Abu Daooh, for example, was honored earlier this year by the Egyptian government after spending 43 years disguised as a man to provide for her family after her husband died in the 1970s. The government called her the “ideal mother.”

“I was 16 when I got married,” she told RT. “My husband passed away when I was six months pregnant. After giving birth, I stayed with my mother-in-law for 40 days. And then I was told to remarry. Remarry? And who’s going to take care of my daughter?”

Characters like Parvana and women like Sisa serve as examples of how far some societies must come in terms of gender equality. If a woman must live her life as a man in order to make ends meet, there is still much work to be done.

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