‘She Rises Up’ Praises Hard Work, Not Victimhood

Empowering doc highlights International women finding their inner entrepreneur

Magatte Wade isn’t waiting for a handout.

The Senegalese CEO knows how to lift citizens out of crushing poverty. It’s work, hard work, not blaming the echoes of slavery or colonization.

“She Rises Up” introduces us to Wade and other women who challenge deep-standing traditions. It’s a testament to capitalism that doesn’t ignore its imperfections. The documentary also suggests red tape is often the biggest barrier to a better life.

How subversive. How necessary.


The film follows three female entrepreneurs, but the narrative always circles back to Wade. She’s dedicated her life to building businesses that employ Senegalese citizens. And she’s learned the hardships that come with that goal.

Patriarchal norms insist women stay home and let the men earn an income. Permit rules and unfriendly banking rules keep many from starting small businesses.

“It’s not people. It’s policies,” she explains.

Wade’s story is inspirational. She’s hardly alone.

Once women get a taste of a steady salary, and the freedoms it brings, it’s infectious. Young girls suddenly dream of becoming lawyers and CEOs. One teen imagines how she’d walk with a lawyer’s satchel around her shoulder.

Her giddy smile speaks volumes. Those tender moments lift the documentary in powerful ways.

So does seeing the daughter of a hard-working Peruvian mom rebel against her rules. Why? Mom’s mini-mart business gives her the time to be a sullen teen. It’s a luxury Mom didn’t have growing up, an offshoot of economic progress that’s all too familiar to western parents.

“As I tell my kids, people have to be useful to society,” the fiesty Mom says, taking a page out of Jordan Peterson’s playbook. Here’s betting her bed is already made back at home.

That mother-daughter subplot has a surprise ending.

Why it's too hard to start a business in Africa -- and how to change it | Magatte Wade

“She Rises Up” can’t ignore capitalism’s pitfalls. One fledgling business gets kneecapped when the business leverages cheap Chinese labor, leaving local women out of work.

And while the film’s tone is mostly upbeat, we hear of a woman who was beaten by her husband after working outside the home.

The practices applauded throughout “She Rises Up” could apply to both men and women. The latter group suffer cultural indignities that deserve this spotlight. A short segment recalls how a company pivoted during the pandemic to provide reusable sanitary napkins, an item with significant shame attached to them.

“She Rises Up” isn’t political, per see, but it rejects victimhood status and shares shocking tales of Peru’s Communist takeover. We hear firsthand testimony about government thugs threatening citizens to vote a certain way, or else.

The details are harrowing.

Inflation woes hammer the working class in multiple countries, and Sri Lankan’s “corrupt” government takes it on the chin.

Some story threads suggest a deeper examination. Why are African governments so resistant to business-friendly policies? How do women fight back against cultural norms that all but demand they stay home for domestic purposes?

A few of the interview snippets add little to the overall subject, but others reveal the relatable emotions that will make the film’s message land.

As well it should.

HiT or Miss: “She Rises Up” is the best kind of empowerment, a story celebrating female entrepreneurs battling against society norms … and winning.


  1. I was wondering why the far-left reviewer over at Roger Ebert’s site gave this movie such a harshly negative review (they usually give a high rating to anything related to female empowerment), and I think your review answered my question. By telling a true story, it doesn’t conform to the woke PC rules closely enough.

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