“If we don’t educate half the world, we can’t work as efficiently and as advanced as we would like to,” said LSA sophomore Luna Terauchi, Membership Coordinator of She’s the First, when speaking about women around the world who do not receive education.

As powerful as these words are, they do not even slightly sum up all the objectives “She’s the First” has for the future.

A non-profit organization, She’s the First, sponsors girls in low-GDP countries that allows the girls to graduate primary and secondary schools. Globally founded in 2009 and with a chapter opening up at University of Michigan in 2012, STF has been creating opportunities for young women all around the world who have the potential, but do not have the educational resources.

“The organization fundraises and has social awareness events that provide information about what we are raising money for and why,” said LSA junior and STF’s President, Heidi Haas.

The group has partner organizations in other third-world countries where they can easily find and help girls who belong in STF.

“There is so much potential that goes untacked when you have all these girls who could contribute something really meaningful to society,” said LSA sophomore and Global Awareness Program Representative, Ishani Mathur.  

However, She’s the First represents more than just women in foreign countries who are in need of education. They are a standing emblem in the area of global female oppression — a loud voice that can be heard in this sea of unjustified women’s rights. Although the majority of their organization involves women, they are eager to recruit more men into the group.

“We are trying to get guys involved,” Terachi added, “because girls education affects everyone, not just women.” With that goal in mind, about 10 percent of the club’s members are now male.

LSA senior and STF’s Events Coordinator, Mona Iskandarani, shared a personal anecdote of how her grandmother, a child of 12, was not sent to school because she was a girl (they educated the boys instead). “It’s stripping a fundamental right away from people because of their gender,” she said. “We (STF) are thinking about the all the injustice in the world.”

The organization is consistently going after these problems both on a global and national scale. Last summer, Haas and Terachi attended a leadership summit in New York City where they interacted with larger corporations which support She’s the First. What was most humbling for the team was when they met two girls who were sponsored in the organization. It was a moment that “brought the cause to life,” Haas said.  

Even with so many women in such faraway places, the board felt as though they, too, grow up with the girls by staying connected through the journey. The club exchanges letters with the scholars and are able to see the impact that is being made on both the girls and on the club.

Additionally, the group doesn’t shy away from other issues. They are always considering the health and well-being of the girls and their families, their day-to-day lives and unfortunately, the discomfort and fear society creates around being female. The board understands that talking about these issues with these girls is a way to handle them.

At a place like the University of Michigan, where different perspectives economically and racially create a heavy influence, the members of STF take these viewpoints into consideration.

“We (STF) are about equality and education.  Education is the main thing that is separating us from these girls. Other than different cultures, there is nothing physically or mentally different, but education is what is giving people power. And these girls deserve to have equal power,” said Business sophomore and Vice President, Emily Fletcher.

And as Haas reflected on what being a woman meant to her, she concluded: “I always remember that there are more difference within each sex than there are between sexes. We are living in a very progressive time, but not everything will fall into place right away. Although there a lot of women’s issues that need to be solved, I am really excited because this is the first time women’s issue are being valued.”

She’s the First is more than a group of people supporting educational rights. They will continue to make great strides in creating equality for all people universally and inspiring others in the Ann Arbor community and beyond. For membership information, please contact hahaas@umich.edu

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