The University of Michigan chapter for Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation’s campaign for adolescent girls, held an advocacy event Wednesday at the Michigan League in commemoration for the International Day of the Girl.
The event featured a livestream of the Glamour International Day of the Girl rally in New York City, which featured luminaries like National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and actress Yara Shahidi.
Girl Up was founded in 2010 to help young girls in developing countries gain access to quality education, health care, socioeconomic opportunities and freedom from violence. LSA sophomore Anudeeta Gautam, co-president of the U-M chapter of Girl Up, explained the program has a global reach and receives support from important female figures like Cara Delevingne, Michelle Obama and Sophie Trudeau.
“The cool thing about Girl Up is that we have a lot of advocates,” Gautam said.
“It really is a conglomeration of anyone who even gives the slightest about making girls safe and happy,” her co-president, LSA sophomore Ellie Allon, added.
Although Girl Up has a global reach, Allon said she hopes to team up with other groups in Southeast Michigan to not just help women abroad but in local communities.
“There’s a women's shelter in Detroit that we’re reaching out to currently … so that we can have consistent volunteering,” Allon said. “Because as much as girls need us abroad, there are also girls in our community and in Ann Arbor who need support.”
Participants in the events formed groups with the heads of each committee they wanted to be a part of. Club advocacy chair Molly Foulkes, an LSA sophomore, was discussing the upcoming screening of “He Named Me Malala” at Rackham Auditorium with her committee group.
“He Named Me Malala” is a documentary film about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani women’s rights activist and Nobel Prize laureate. Yousafzai recently gathered attention on Twitter when she tweeted about her first day at the University of Oxford.
“We’re talking about how we want to promote (the event) to Michigan students and to people of Ann Arbor since it’s public,” Foulkes said. “We want to gather people from all over that’s interested … (we’re) trying to get people to care about people that aren’t themselves.”
Engineering freshman Patrick Neggie, one of two men who attended the event, said he was interested in Girl Up because he believes advocating for women’s rights will create a better society for all.
“No matter what gender you are … you should be given equal rights,” Neggie said. “It shouldn’t even be a matter of only for people (with) a specific gender. … Other people should support the fact that equality should exist for every (person).”
Allon agreed, calling for anyone who cares to join the movement toward progress.
“If you look in the room obviously it’s a lot of females. But even if you don’t identify that way, girls matter,” Allon said. “It’s the biggest untapped resource in the world so it just makes sense to support them even if you aren’t one. You’re helping yourself by helping them.”