Written by Juliette K.
Recently, Bay Shore High School of Bay Shore, NY celebrated its first ever celebration of the International Day of the Girl on October 11, 2017. The day consisted of a 3 presentations highlighting issues girls face around the world with over 150 students in attendance.
The day began with activist Naila Amin, a survivor of child marriage. Having her story shared on such platforms as the Muslim American Leadership Alliance and the New York Times, she is making a difference one step at time through awareness and action. Ms. Amin described her harrowing story of courage, conviction, and forgiveness all while shedding light on the horrors of forced and child marriage. At the tender age of 8-years-old, Amin discovered that she was engaged to be married to her cousin in Pakistan. After spending most of her childhood in Queens, Amin was forced by her family to move to Pakistan to be married at 15. She managed to escape the abusive marriage and return to the United States. She now works on opening a home for girls who have refused to go through with child marriages and are no longer permitted to stay with their families.
Next, professor of Women’s Studies at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, Marnie Weidman, spoke on the topic of body image. It is a topic that Professor Weidman enjoys teaching and discussing, and the audience was captivated by her energy and thoughtfulness on the subject. Professor Weidman stresses the acceptance of one’s body and is working to see change in the media’s portrayal of women.
Finally, Bay Shore High School’s own Jennifer Herbst, who teaches Women’s Studies, spoke of female empowerment. Mrs. Herbst stressed the importance of eliminating harmful and sexist practices towards women in order to give them the confidence to accomplish their goals. This includes the end of body shaming, gossiping, and other bullying tactics that target girls and women, ultimately perpetuating a society that seeks to tear down women. Mrs. Herbst’s message resonated with many of the students present helping to encourage positive behavior in a younger generation.
In managing a table with raffle baskets containing prizes with generous donations from the rest of the community, we were able to raise over $1,300. This is enough to send 16 girls to school in Mali. We also received hundreds of signatures for the Equal Education for Girls Globally Petition.
To continue our message of helping girls and bring attention to the work done by School Girls Unite, Bay Shore High School hosted a screening of the documentary Girl Rising, which documents the stories of nine girls and their struggle to obtain an education. This event ended with a lively discussion session of the challenges girls must face and the factors that are holding them back, such as child marriage and other harmful cultural practices, poverty, and war.
The students at Bay Shore High School are committed to making a difference in the lives of girls everywhere while spreading awareness of the issues they are facing. The Day of the Girl event coordinators would like to thank Viki Zimolka in making Day of the Girl 2017 a reality, all the businesses that made generous donations, the guest speakers for taking the time in spreading their messages to students, and the students themselves for caring about the challenges girls face globally.
“After a successful fundraising initiative, our student committee, headed by Juliette K., has raised $1300 to support the girls in Mali who seek educational opportunity. The experience for our students here has been exceptional. The awareness campaign had an effect on all our students who participated in our first Day of the Girl conference as well as for those who attended the screening of Girl Rising.
I appreciate the assistance you have provided Juliette to bring this program to fruition. Her committee of 7 young women has made a difference in the culture of our school. Our hope is to turn our conference into an annual event that coincides with the International Day of the Girl celebration. We are grateful for organizations like School Girls Unite that open our students’ perspectives to these issues of global importance.”
– Viki Zimolka, Advisor, Creativity, Physical Activity, Action (CAS)
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program
Bay Shore High School
Bay Shore, NY