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Our New Postcard Campaign & More!

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.  

Members of the Bay Shore High School Day of the Girl Committee (photo by Diana R.)

Bay Shore SGU Chapter Holds Successful Fundraiser on the Day of the Girl!

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. Continue reading “Bay Shore SGU Chapter Holds Successful Fundraiser on the Day of the Girl!”

“Wonder Girls” Highlights SGU’s Impact and Legacy

School Girls Unite is one of 15 girl-powered initiatives across 13 countries featured in a new book co-authored by Paola Gianturco and her 11-year-old granddaughter Alex Sangster. Paola launched her book tour in DC to recognize our 2011 victorious grassroots campaign to mobilize US support to establish the UN International Day of the Girl, observed annually on October 11. Continue reading ““Wonder Girls” Highlights SGU’s Impact and Legacy”

Photo of School Girls Unite scholarship students smiling in front of a chalkboard.

Mali Girls Scholarship Program News

Fatoumata Coulibaly, the president of our sister organization, says “Even though the conflict in Mali is extremely tense, there is a little hope and good news.” During her recent trip to the villages, parents express their eagerness for their daughters to go to school.  Many of the girls who receive our scholarships confirm this attitude. Djéneba Doumbia reports:

My grandfather and my father encouraged me a lot to continue my studies.”

Even mothers, who need their daughters to help at home, tell Les Filles Unies how proud they are that their girls can read and write. What’s really promising is that many of the scholars interviewed recently by Les Filles Unies say they feel more respected. Kadia Coulibaly, who just completed 6th grade, claims:

At my school, now the girls and boys are treated the same way, and in fact in my class the girls are doing better than the boys.” Continue reading “Mali Girls Scholarship Program News”

Art Contest to Promote Gender Equality in Education

At Burleigh Manor Middle School, students in the Global Equality Now! club hosted an art contest to promote gender equality in education. Six students entered the contest and it was very hard to choose who would win. Emilie, an eighth grader, won the art contest with a drawing depicting Malala, the peace dove, books, and gender equality using crayons! Emilie was awarded a $20 gift card to a well-known coffee chain for her winning picture. Continue reading “Art Contest to Promote Gender Equality in Education”

Photo of middle school members of School Girls Unite writing letters.

How to Make Your Letter to Lawmakers Stand Out!

Eighth grader Julia M. led an action-based workshop at the School Girls Unite Howard County Summit in Maryland that attracted nearly 100 middle and high school SGU students. Based on her prior experience lobbying Congress, Julia maps out the reasons to write your Members of Congress and tips on how to make your letter make an impact! Continue reading “How to Make Your Letter to Lawmakers Stand Out!”

Thoughts from the Women’s March – Part 2

By Julia –

Before the march, I had trouble finding hope – I want to pursue a profession in family planning, and I care deeply for women’s rights internationally. Unfortunately, these fields have never been in a worse position. But through all of my frustrations, motivation and hope have been born. I am optimistic for our nation because of the sheer number of people that I now know will not stand for the mistreatment of women in this country, or the mistreatment of women anywhere. We are Trump’s bosses now. Continue reading “Thoughts from the Women’s March – Part 2”

Thoughts from the Women’s March – Part 1

By Misbah –

The inauguration of Donald Trump and his subsequent executive orders have sparked a movement among Americans of all backgrounds like no other. From the powerful Women’s March to the countless number of people who have been calling and writing letters to their representatives, activism is at a peak in American society. We must ensure that we keep the ball rolling and continue to advocate for our rights, even after the Trump presidency. Continue reading “Thoughts from the Women’s March – Part 1”