Evan Minniti staff writer
According to the United Nations (UN), women make up two thirds of the illiterate population worldwide. With women’s education becoming an increasingly important topic in the global community, the United Nations Foundation started Girl Up in 2010. It fundraises in order to “help the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl.”
Now, students want to expand Girl Up to Beverly. Spearheaded by president Kate Liner and vice president Willa Ziegenfuss, Girl Up Club seeks to organize five fundraisers annually.
“Our main focus is fundraising. We try to raise money so that girls in African countries, as well as Guatemala, can go to school and have access to all the modern necessities that we have,” Liner explained. “We also are involved in advocacy, which means that we call our representatives and try to get them to sponsor legislation that improves the lives of these girls in other countries.”
At the moment, however, the Beverly branch is focusing on raising funds for a women’s shelter in Downtown Los Angeles.
“We are required to have at least five fundraisers. The one we are having now is gathering supplies for a women’s shelter in Downtown LA. This isn’t directly related to [a Girl Up campaign], but they still recognize that as a fundraiser because we are helping women in our community,” Liner said.
In May of this year, the efforts of Girl Up would lead to the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would give education to women in refugee camps worldwide. However, Liner doesn’t expect proposed legislation to always be successful with President Donald Trump in office.
“It is pretty hard, especially with proposed legislation, where you know that it probably isn’t going to get passed. This President has the ultimate veto power. But we still have to keep trying to push past that, and it is especially important now to focus on women’s rights because if the government doesn’t care about our rights, someone needs to [care about rights],” Liner said.
The international campaign allows the clubs a degree of autonomy, something that the Beverly branch can feel. Ziegenfuss described the club meetings as being deliberately casual. So far, it seems this strategy has been successful, with the current membership being 28, compared to last year’s membership of just eight.
“Our meetings are very informal, we sit in library room, we discuss certain aspect of what the club does. We talk about fundraising, club participation, things along those lines…Everyone is required to make a two dollar donation just so we can accumulate that and other money that we fundraise to help promote the club,” Ziegenfuss said.
Ultimately, Liner and Ziegenfuss believe that the work they are doing can help empower girls.
“I think [we are feminists],” Ziegenfuss said. “Obviously, ‘feminist’ is a broad term, but I think what we are doing is empowering other females, which is so so necessary and so important in today’s world. So, yeah, I consider what we do is feminism and [women’s] empowerment.”