Girl Up: Uniting Girls to Change the World

Kim Walsh and Anna Pluff

Staff Writers

Jamesville-DeWitt High School welcomes a new club this year, the Girl Up Club. The club was started by juniors Hannah Butler and Jamie Rieger, who are also co-presidents of the club. The Girl Up Club is motivated by the desire to help students grasp a greater understanding of the world around them. They want their members to realize the challenges that women face and how people in the United States can make a difference.

And gentlemen, don’t be deferred by the club’s name, both boys and girls are welcomed. “Guys should be just as aware as girls as the challenges that women face in other countries and there is no reason only girls or women should be advocating for this. Guys can, too.” It will take a group effort to spread the awareness that the Girl Up Club hopes to achieve.

Butler said she was inspired to start the club because of a cousin, who lives in Washington, D.C., and a student from Central Square who both started one at their own school. Butler was especially interested in the experience her cousin had through the Girl Up Club; her cousin had the opportunity to meet Malala Yousafzai at an international conference in Texas. Malala  is best known for her work as an advocate for women’s education. Even after surviving a gunshot wound to the head, she continued to speak out. And in 2014, Malala’s efforts were recognized by the world. She became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Inspired, Butler and Rieger decided it was time to bring a Girl Up Club to J-DHS. Their goal was to bring education and awareness about the challenges women face in other countries. The club meets on Mondays, every other week, in Ms. Crawford’s room.  Ms. Crawford thought that this would be a good club because there is a great interest for something like this at J-DHS and she knew a lot of students from Model United Nations would be interested in it as well. “Girl Up Club is an off-shoot of MUN,” said Ms. Crawford. She also said that she thought students in clubs like JD Cares would also be interested in Girl Up, as there is an overlap of goals.

Club members usually discuss the issues women face around the world like social inequalities and education, but recently have been discussing ongoing fundraisers. The club is hoping to bring in a speaker from Gambia. The speaker is a senior at Bishop Grimes who came to the U.S. three years ago and who will be speaking about the issues that she faced there.

The Club has recently set up accounts for club members on the Girl Up website. This allows members to communicate freely and easily with one another. It also allows the club to track the activity of other members. Crawford commends the club for it’s outstanding organization, saying “overall, its a well run club and the interest is there.” This statement is certainly true, as the turn out has been great. There is a refreshing mix of freshman through seniors. On average, 25 students show up at each meeting, and turn out has been consistant. Also, there are currently over 450,000 active members nation wide, according to the Girl Up webpage.