By Sahara, Danielle, Anjali, Sharvari, Judy, Sage, Sofia, and Ellie
– Members of the Mayfield Woods Middle School Youth Advocacy Group
The annual meeting of the Women’s Giving Circle in Maryland was an interesting celebration all the way from the fine wine and food to the memorable speaker and book. The book, Wonder Girls, is the reason Paola Gianturco was invited to the Women’s Giving Circle, and why some of the students in our Youth Advocacy group were honored to attend the event. What is the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County? The Women’s Giving Circle is an organization that is working to build a community of philanthropists and a permanent legacy to address the needs of women and girls in Howard County. The group wants to support women and celebrate days that do this like The Day of the Girl. The International Day of the Girl Child was celebrated on October 11th and began in 2012 through the efforts of School Girls Unite.
Paola Gianturco, the speaker at the Day of the Girl event, is a photojournalist who focuses on capturing women around the world in their daily lives. Recently, she published the book Wonder Girls which focuses on the work of girl activists around the world. Paolo visited with girls from School Girls Unite and even included them in a chapter of her book. In Wonder Girls, Paolo portrayed members of School Girls Unite who went to Capitol Hill to advocate for the bill, Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development, more commonly known as the READ Act. After much hard work by these members, the READ Act is now a law. Stories of girl activists like these are the main focus of Paola’s book. She wanted to shine a light on girls around the world who stand up for what is right.
Some important topics Wonder Girls features are very serious issues facing girls by girl activists. Some of these topics were child molestation, domestic violence, and the sex trade. As young women, unfortunately, we were not surprised by these issues, because we are aware of the challenges girls face. Though we heard about women in their times of trouble, we also heard about how they overcame those times not only for themselves but to empower others.
Education was also one of the big topics of discussion during the presentation. While we were at the meeting, girls from Howard County School Girls Unite groups and Paolo talked about their experiences lobbying for the READ Act, and what it was like to talk to representatives. The READ Act was enacted to provide girls around the world with education. There is now another bill that is being worked on to not only make sure girls complete elementary school but to help older girls continue their education. The Keeping Girls in School Act, which is Senate Bill 1171 of the 115th Congress, supports empowerment, economic security, and educational opportunities for adolescent girls around the world. Our Mayfield Woods Middle School Youth Advocacy group created a postcard campaign that reaches out to our US Maryland Senators asking them to sponsor this bill. We were inspired to do this by the SGU Summit we attended last year and the Women’s Giving Circle meeting we attended this year. We listened to other SGU members give presentations on what stands out to legislators. They said that handwritten letters and postcards stand out more than emails. Using these ideas, our group decided to write postcards. One of our group members, Anjali, designed a picture to go on every postcard. It shows a picture of a girl dreaming of all the things that she can accomplish.
If you decide that a postcard campaign is something you would like to participate in, too, you are more than welcome to use our postcard design template. We encourage other groups to support this bill and ask their US Senators to co-sponsor this legislation. Click here to find the names of your lawmakers and if/once this proposal moves forward we need to begin asking our US Representatives to support this Education for All bill.